How to Become a Good Leader: Tom Reid @_TomGReid #VCBuzz

How to Become a Good Leader: Tom Reid @_TomGReid @VCBuzzBeing a good leader means everything to a business success. You can never do all by myself: You need a team who’ll lead, and inspire, and motivate to grow your business and spread your message.

But how to become a good leader? Let’s discuss!

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About Tom

Tom Reid @_TomGReid is author, speaker, and mentor.

He is founder and CEO of Certified Contracting Solutions and author of Sustained Leadership WBS

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become leadership mentor? What’s your career path?

My career has spanned more than 35 years. 7 yrs as a federal attorney (Navy & NASA) then 11 years in industry (Aerospace & defense) then moved to the business side which led me to open my own firm in 2002. Practice has always been in government contracting.

Always been a keen observer of leadership & its lack. I am a voracious reader w/ a cataloged library of over 3200 books, many on leadership. Yet with all the degrees, think tanks, institutes, development pgms (experts & gurus), I had to ask – Where’s the leadership?

I then asked myself – If I wanted to build myself into a better leader, how would I do that? So I borrowed the Work Breakdown Structure tool from the field of program management and built a program plan for developing yourself and your team into better leaders.

Q2 What are the five pillars of leadership? Could you sum up your great article on that?

After extensive surveys & self-study, I identified 229 distinct aspects of leadership. In grouping them, I discovered that they fell nicely within five major headings of Character, Competence, Compassion, Communication, and Commitment. Those became the five pillars.

I then defined all 229 elements, thus creating the first comprehensive lexicon on leadership so that we can all use the same language when discussing all the complexity and difficulty of understanding leadership.

That has been a major stumbling block in leadership development. People call things “leadership” that are not, and then everyone gets confused.

Q3 How did social media transform the concept of leadership?

The open forum of social media has invited everyone to the party and provides a great cross-section of views and opinions. It helped us see more clearly how the lexicon of leadership was not well defined.

It showed us how often people refer to “leaders” as those who held the position – not those who were capable of leading.

As a result we saw people refer to flavors of leaders – true, real, authentic, genuine, servant, and many other flavors – again without any agreed-to definition.

I created a new flavor of the “Sustained Leader” – one who could obtain the position and earn the right to stay there. We see in the news every day of another person who failed to sustain their leadership role.

Q4 Can one become a good leader or is it given? Where should one start?

Leadership is a skill or discipline that ANYONE can learn. It is a complex mix of traits, abilities, skills, practices, and character where each person brings their own unique set of these things to the table. Thus everyone starts at a different spot.

Since everyone comes to the table with a different set of things to learn (and often to un-learn!) I tried to create a tool that anyone and everyone could use, no matter where they are starting.

Please dispel that old issue of whether leaders are born or made. We were all born and out life experiences have taught us different things. Your goal should simply be to make yourself the best “you” that you possibly can.

And IMHO, learning to lead yourself is the starting point. Thus the project management tool of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) of everything that goes into becoming a leader and sustaining yourself in that role.

Q5 What are your favorite leadership resources, books and mentors?

The book “Sustained Leadership WBS” is designed as a workbook for your own personal development. After each of the 229 elements there is a self assessment tool, followed by a set of resources, and space to fill in your own goals, action items, and due date.

Some people do not like writing in books (and ironically I am one of them). I end up burning through stacks of sticky notes. The process works either way.

There are a lot of both good and bad leadership resources out there. I’m a big fan of the classics from Covey, Blanchard, Maxwell, and Carnegie. In specific areas, the Sustained Leadership WBS has a 23 page bibliography keyed to each of the 229 elements.

Likewise there are good and bad blogs and other postings. I like @SethGodinsBlog a lot and I’ve been sifting through some of the podcasts that are available. I’m still concerned about the failure to have a solid lexicon accepted by those who discuss leadership.

And never forget what Mark Twain said – No one is a complete waste; they can always serve as a bad example. You can learn a lot by observing the bad examples!

Our previous leadership and personal growth chats:


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