“When the leader lacks confidence, the followers lack commitment.”

~John C. Maxwell~

Like success, leadership skills do not strengthen overnight. Some professionals are groomed to be a leader at a young age by their family, school, and community. Other professionals make the choice to demonstrate leadership qualities as they journey through life and acquire the desire to develop the actions and perspective of a leader. The foundation of leadership is a mindset that transitions through development of perspective through conversations coupled with life and professional experiences to be confident in your ability to lead others by example.

A professional with a mindset of a leader expands by an awareness to be on the lookout for intellectual sparks. Sparks that ignites them to elevate their thoughts, process, and abilities to lead in diverse climates of business. As well as their team that they are professionally held accountable to accomplish profitable outcomes with and by choice influence their employees to their next level of greatness within themselves.

An example of the evolution of confidence through leadership is Mark Powell. Mark is the Executive Director of Student Experience for Mount Washington College.  He is responsible for student acquisition and retention for the National Online program. Prior to transitioning to Mount Washington, he served as an Executive Director of Admissions for KU online for seven years overseeing admissions’ teams in Boca, Cypress, and Orlando. Before joining Kaplan, he served as Senior Leader in the BPO industry managing several Fortune 500 companies’ call center sales and customer service business nationally and internationally. Mark also served 11 years in the United States Army as a Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of tactical and strategic operations for the largest service battalion in the Army located at Fort Hood Texas. Mark holds a Bachelor’s in Business Management and Masters in Business Administration. Throughout Mark’s professional career, he has confidently driven change through various layers of business while achieving the designated tasks that affects internal business verticals and external consumers. Mark took the time out to interview and share his journey to becoming confident in his leadership abilities.

Career Tipper: How do you motivate your team to execute the company’s vision and accomplish set goals beyond, “I’m just earning a paycheck.” mentality. 

Powell: I truly believe that you can’t motivate a person or a team. I do believe that a leader can create a culture and environment that inspires people to do their best. Over the years, I have learned to get to know the members of the team individually and understand what drives them and fuels their passion for success. Far too often leaders use the “one size fits all” as a motivation tactic. I have been successful in helping my teams find their” Inner Thirst”. I don’t worry so much about “leading a horse to water and not making them drink”. I believe if you keep your team thirsty they will aspire to find their own water.

Career Tipper: What professional lessons have helped you become confident in your leadership abilities and skills?

Powell: The first true professional leadership lessons for me came from being in the US Army. I learned so much as a Non-Commissioned officer on how to bring out the best in others and always keep my team focused on the “bigger picture”. I would say the next biggest lesson was finding that balance between emotional and cognitive intelligence. The numbers and analysis in a company are extremely important, but you can’t lose sight of the organizational behavior and human factor in route to achieving those financial goals.

Career Tipper: What was career tipping advice that boosted you to remain focused on your professional development as a leader?

Powell: The very first advice came from my father. I grew up in a family of seven and every Sunday our father would make us spend two hours sitting around the table holding a session that he called “let’s explore your mind.” There would be various subjects, but the one that always stood out was that my father instilled in me to be a man of character and always remain cognizant of the shadow I cast. He is 92 years old and have been married to my mother for 71 years and still challenges us to explore our minds. The other advice that I hold on to came early on when I entered the corporate sector. I was told not to be afraid to take on the tough jobs. I could remember at the time most people were running away from the outbound call center work I was running towards it. By taking on this work it allowed me to get on a fast track and gain international exposure while building high performing teams. I truly love being a leader, and the responsibility of giving back that comes with it. I measure my success by the success of those that I lead or have led. There is nothing more rewarding in leadership than to see someone who you had a part in developing doing great things!