Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. This week, to change things up a little bit, we’re looking at one of my direct employees as our featured personality.
Name: David Hunt
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?
Honestly all of my managers at REI have been amazing in their own way. Matt is terrific at recognizing people who are doing exceptional work and finding ways to increase productivity in less motivated workers. Lindsay puts everyone around her in a better mood by balancing her warm and sincere personality with a work-ethic that everyone respects. Wil is a master at bringing workers together for outside events, and making sure sales and membership goals are emphasized. I could go on and on about my experience with leadership at REI to talk about Dave, Piper, Mitch, Payton, etc (and I am still leaving a lot of people out), who are all stylistically different and yet are unquestioned leaders of their respective departments. They have all taught me to play to my strengths and embrace the leadership qualities I have while building on areas that I am less experienced in with their help.
2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?
At RCC I was involved with a “leadership” group where the executive board was made up of six friends who decided to start a local chapter of an east coast organization. They had big ideas, and exceptional communication skills but never executed any of their goals that they spoke about in their first meeting which hosted over three-hundred students. The three hundred students quickly dwindled when they found out that they would not really be participating in any kind of reputable seminars, and the focus was more on generating profits to pay back the east coast operation. The experience made me realize that it doesn’t matter how excited you are, or how many people you can bring together for a meeting if you don’t deliver a product, or experience people that validates you as a leader. In other words, “Talk is cheap”
3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?
To me the quality that makes a truly good leader is someone who wants to listen to the concerns of those around them. It’s easy to tell someone what to do, and even to show them how it should be done in your own terms. To create an environment where not only do people feel productive, but also validated with their ideas and contributions is a skill that true leaders always need to master.
4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?
I am currently developing a peer recognition program at REI where employees will be able to support each other for the work that we do every day. We experience unexpected challenges on a daily basis and a lot of times recognition for the way we handle those experiences goes unnoticed. When I see someone do a particularly good job, handling a tough customer, or cleaning up after somebody who didn’t do their job correctly etc, I make sure that I praise the effort to ensure they know their actions are appreciated. This helps motivate workers who otherwise might feel that someone else can handle the problem and/or default to calling a manager.
5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?
I will refer back to question 3. Leaders have to be perceptive to what is going on around them and be able to respond with plans and goals that benefit their respective communities/organizations as a whole. If you are a leader people will look to you to help solve their problems and you can’t do that with incomplete information. An isolated leadership style will only allow you to work with the information you already have, but branching out and gathering knowledge from those around you will always help distinguish a true leader from someone in a position of power.