Developing a Leadership Mindset: Five Points

Ted Ferrara, ’77 Refrigeration, describes his personal leadership as a “work in process,” not a “work in progress.”

Photo of Ted Ferrara speaking at Dunwoody.

Ted Ferrara, ’77 Refrigeration, was the April 2016 Leadership Lecture speaker at Dunwoody.

“Some days progress, some days regress, but all days are part of a process,” Ferrara said. One of the owners of Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, a local, family-owned business, Ferrara shared his thoughts on leadership during the April 7 C. Charles Jackson Leadership Lecture Series at Dunwoody College of Technology.

The Dunwoody alum and immediate Past Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Ferrara also holds a B.A. and B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Metropolitan State University and an MBA from Harvard University.

During his talk, Ferrara defined “Leadership that Matters,” as “Helping people get to a place they would not have otherwise been inclined to go,” and touched on five main points.

  1. Be a Good Follower.  Know what it is to be a good follower.  It is an active pursuit, not a passive one. Ask yourself, “Would I want me as a follower?” Good followers push back when they disagree and help ensure that their leaders are successful. Becoming a good follower helps future leaders develop understanding and empathy.
  2. Take Ownership. The organization you work for is an extension of yourself and taking ownership means going beyond the job description and taking responsibility to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. At the same time, don’t take on everyone’s problems. Instead, empower others to become problem solvers.
  3. No Excuses. Leadership is difficult and risky personally, and things don’t always work out, but nobody buys excuses. Instead, ask yourself if you had a “do-over” knowing what you know now, would you have done anything different. By adopting a “no excuses” mentality you put your best efforts forward and unleash a lot of creative problem solving.
  4. Define Reality. Whether it’s an established and well-functioning enterprise or a total turn-around, a leader’s job is to first figure out where the organization is at and then help others understand that reality.
  5. Lead With Values. Define and communicate your core values. In an uncertain world, this is where you find certainty.  Shared values are the strongest reasons for people to follow you.

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