Director's Corner


A Reminder to Be Thankful—Even in 2020!

In composing this year’s annual Thanksgiving blog, I’ve been reflecting upon the historic events of the past 11 months. Mutually, our country has gone through the wringer. Spring brought the ongoing pandemic along with many life-altering modifications. Then, summer saw social divisions resurface and escalate. And fall culminated in a contentious election season. Emotions have been running high. Despite its challenging nature, however, 2020 has reminded me of the blessings I’m thankful for.


Leaders Act the Part

My favorite actor is Academy Award winner Russell Crowe. He’s performed marvelously in a variety of roles in memorable movies such as Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, and L.A. Confidential. Like many of the greats of the profession, Crowe brings a plausibility to his craft that makes you forget—for a few hours, anyway—he’s acting the part of his character. But “acting the part” isn’t only for those who tread the boards. Behaving in a way proper to a particular role or given situation is appropriate for anyone in a position of responsibility.


Anticipate, Prepare, and Decide

The best leaders constantly strive for peak performance and efficiency. But those ideals are usually held under the premise of “normal” circumstances. What happens when things go sideways? I’m reminded of this gem from Maj. Richard Winters: Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind. In the last six months, this principle became particularly meaningful for USF Corporate Training and Professional Education. A new way to conduct business was in order.


Leaders Earn the Respect of Their Teams, Part II

The key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character. I used this precept from U.S. Army Major Richard Winters’ memoirs as a jumping-off point to write last month on the importance of leaders earning the respect of their people. In summary, I noted three particular behaviors leaders should either avoid or exhibit. First, leaders do not seek credit when their teams succeed. Second, leaders are accountable for their team’s function. Lastly, leaders should be able to deliver difficult news.


Leaders Earn the Respect of Their Teams

Respect. Aretha Franklin famously asked for it in song. Rodney Dangerfield went to hilarious lengths to claim he got none. Actually, respect is a big deal. If you’re a manager in any workplace, respect from your team signifies its trust in you. As one of my aforementioned role models, U.S Army Major Richard Winters, wrote in his memoirs, “The key to a successful leader is to earn respect—not because of rank or position, but because you are a leader of character.” Here are some of my thoughts on earning your team’s respect through leadership.


Teamwork: Contribute Together, Win Together

As a country, we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic and, in more-recent events, listen to voices calling for civil justice. Both are topics of immense, historic importance and deserving of our attention. I would also remind my audience that this month marked the 76th anniversary of D-Day, when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to undertake one of the most pivotal military campaigns of World War II. That massive operation required teamwork—thousands of personnel carrying out roles to help save the world.


Connecting With Your People Outside of Work Roles

Not long after our office began working exclusively from home 11 weeks ago, we initiated a weekly “coffee” video chat for the purpose of connecting socially with one another. The only hard-and-fast rule of the meeting is no one is allowed to talk shop. For example, we’ve described our first cars, named favorite vacation spots, and exchanged Netflix suggestions. It’s also been an opportunity to share our experiences, both positive and negative, of spending so much time cloistered in our homes.


Leadership During Crisis

Growing up in Tarpon Springs, Florida, I would hear stories about the sponge boat crews working the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. Out on the water—sometimes for weeks at a time—the best crews were able to navigate daunting challenges: equipment failures, illness, and stormy weather, to name but a few. Skilled leadership was necessary. “A good captain is not made from calm seas,” one veteran sponger liked to say. And with the “rough seas” we’re having as of late, that old sailing adage has been on my mind.


Letter From the Director: Thoughts on the Covid-19 Outbreak

The current Covid-19 pandemic has forcefully come to the forefront of the nation’s psyche in relatively little time, rapidly—and radically—altering the rhythm of our lives. In less than two weeks, our work, school, and social schedules have been turned upside-down. Terms that were unheard of such as “social distancing” and “shelter in place” are now on everyone’s lips. Many of us are now living with the reality of remote work and school. My office’s function has now moved entirely to an online format. Everyone is making significant adjustments.  


Take Control of Your Career

Part One: Learning When to Pivot

Playing organized basketball as a young boy, I discovered the importance of pivoting. When defensive pressure forces the player dribbling the ball to stop the advance up the court, that player can ‘pivot’ by keeping one foot stationary while the other can move. This allows the ball-handler an opportunity to reposition, to determine whether a pass to a teammate or taking a shot is the best option. Sometimes, a well-executed pivot can be the catalyst for a great, but unexpected, play.