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How a Leader’s Behavior Affects Team Members

How a Leader’s Behavior Affects Team Members

When I worked at Countrywide/Bank of America, I worked under one of the harshest middle-managers in the company. My boss Rhonda was known throughout the company as a stickler to the rules who chose manuals and numbers over people. I spent a lot of time with her behind closed doors, working on priority projects that remained hidden from the average worker—I sat behind the curtains of Oz, helping to operate the gears and pulleys of one of the largest fraudulent machines in human history. How Rhonda convinced an honest and hardworking man to lend a hand in perpetrating widespread financial crimes for the largest bank in the United States illustrated to me how a leader’s behavior affects team members.

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    Trickle Down Effect

    When left to my own devices, I’m a good-natured, mild-mannered person; I never wish anyone any intentional harm. I was really a really good student in school, but I never really had much passion for anything in life. I loved music, but I was turned off to the industry. I ended up working in the mortgage industry for a subsidiary of Countrywide Home Loans. Having only rented up until that point, I didn’t know much about the company I started my career with.

    The atmosphere at Countrywide leading up to their bankruptcy and the subsequent financial crisis was interesting—everyone threw money around like it was water. There were expensive dinners, bonuses, and perks given to everyone. We were a well-oiled machine, and everyone was all smiles. This is because executives were making a killing at the expense of the American public. This led to bonuses and corporate spending accounts being handed out to middle-management, keeping them happy with what they do. On the bottom of the corporate ladder, temps and entry-level schmucks were forced to carry out the marching orders, oblivious that behind the shiny surface lay a mountain of deceit.

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    Whistle While You Work

    After discovering the systematic fraud inherent in both Countrywide and Bank of America’s business dealings, I decided to blow the whistle internally. This led to me losing my management position: I was no longer acting like the leader I was groomed to be by my leader. When I was strict and followed my barking orders from upper-management, I was seen as a golden child; a role model for other employees to emulate. I had been promoted from entry-level to management by drinking the company Kool-Aid, and by blowing the whistle, I was no longer wanted in that position.

    Soon afterward, I found myself moved to another side of the building, being handed impossible assignments with overdue deadlines. I made the decision then and there that I couldn’t handle throwing my life away at the expense of a frivolous attempt at exposing financial fraud; I wanted to take down the entire corrupt bank. I quit my job and started my journey as a solo whistleblowerthe type you see on the news. I was no longer in an official position of power, yet I displayed leadership skills, however unintentionally, and the effects were noticeable.

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    The Leader and The First Follower

    While being a leader is important, Derek Sivers explains in this TED talk that it’s actually the first follower who’s important. When I left the bank and became an official whistleblower, I was nothing more than a lone nut; nobody was following me. I had a Jerry Maguire moment where nobody was coming with me, and I knew better than to ask. I was temporarily stripped of all followers, and my leadership prowess was removed… or so the banks thought.

    After leaving the bank and facing their retaliation protocols (including facing the police on numerous occasions to prove my innocence from false charges filed by the bank), my tech background compelled me to seek out the hacktivist group Anonymous. At the time, I didn’t fully understand the power of Anon, but they believed in me and became my first follower. Because of their support, I was able to leak important documents and help start the Occupy movement.

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    Takeaways

    The moral of the story is that followers will emulate their leaderor more precisely, they’ll emulate the first follower, who follows the leader. Your attitude as a leader will trickle down to your followers, and the way you treat your subordinates is the way they’ll treat those who work below them. The number of possible layers of that depends on how nice you are. Eventually it reaches a point where people won’t tolerate abuse, and you better hope you’re well-defended by then.

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    Last Updated on May 15, 2019

    10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs and What We Can Learn from Them

    10 Most Successful Entrepreneurs and What We Can Learn from Them

    Apart from making crucial decisions for their own businesses, entrepreneurs innovate and grow their ideas. Albeit there being no cookie-cutter answer that fits everyone’s experiences, taking a look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs today, you might spot some similar traits and characteristics.

    Starting and nurturing a business entails a great amount of hard work and commitment. However, for aspiring entrepreneurs who are prepared to dedicate themselves to their vision, here are 10 most successful entrepreneurs you can learn from:

    1. Melanie Perkins: Know Your Worth and Keep Trying

      Melanie Perkins founded Canva, a Sydney-based business valued at $1Billion having successfully raised a number of rounds of successful funding and boasting more than 10 Million users in 179 countries.[1]

      She told BBC that one of the biggest challenges she faced getting into the business was talking about her company’s accomplishments when she first got to Silicon Valley. She attributed this difficulty to a cultural difference where Australians tend to ‘talk down’ their achievements and this would slow down her fundraising progress for a few years.

      Despite hundreds of rejections, Melanie emerged three years later with a much clearer strategy and stronger investor pitch that prompted a series of fundraising rounds netting the company $82Million of funding in total.[2]

      2. Bill Gates: Keep Learning and Exploring

        If you don’t know Bill Gates, you likely know the company he founded – Microsoft.

        Bill Gates’ story is a prime example of nurturing an idea that might seem out of this world but make sense in the future. One of the most successful entrepreneurs in history did not complete his degree at Harvard University to pursue a vision that the technology would soon become the future.

        He told a white lie to Altair, saying that he had made a computer program for them, therefore pushing himself to create a system that would change modern history.

        “The most important speed issue is convincing everyone that the company’s survival depends on moving as fast as possible.”

        Gates’ success is built on self-improvement and the seeds of an idea.

        3. Elon Musk: Never Stop Innovating

          Traditional thinking suggests that in order to become a successful entrepreneur, one must focus in a single field or industry.

          Elon Musk, however, breaks that rule.

          Today, the multifaceted tech entrepreneur, investor, and engineer advocates for the diversification of skills and businesses by delving into various fields of interest.

          When done right, skills in a single domain can be carried over then applied into contrasting industries to create something new the world might need. Musk owes his accomplishments to a constant thirst for knowledge.

          Having birthed Tesla and a myriad of products across the arenas of aeronautics and software design, Musk continues to evolve as an entrepreneur and plans to innovate for the long haul.

          4. Richard Branson: Develop People First

            British entrepreneur Richard Branson founded Virgin Records in the early 1970s. Virgin Records has since grown into the Virgin Group, today responsible for over 400 companies.

            The billionaire is strongly particular about working with a team that shares his core values and aspirations.

            Branson believes that managing a business can become taxing, thus he acknowledges his employees for putting in the effort that they have.

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            A good leader knows how to raise morale for positive productivity. Utilising emotional intelligence and compassion is a game changer in seeing results within a team.

            Branson’s supports the idea of nurturing a positive work environment, with the belief that credentials must go hand-in-hand with an enthusiasm for work.

            5. Jeff Bezos: A Relentless Focus on Customer Satisfaction

              Having founded Amazon, Jeff Bezos is known to be one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs. The e-commerce pioneer fixates himself on angry customers with the belief that a business’s loopholes are found in the experiences of unsatisfied customers.

              For the 8th year in a row, customers have ranked Amazon as the number one in customer service (according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index).

              While numerous companies ignore unhappy customers, Bezos found success in learning from reviews and surveys. By focusing on customer service, Amazon shows they care, both for their customers and for rising above their competitors.

              While praise and recognition are signs that a business is accelerating, criticism is an opportunity to improve a product or a service.

              6. Mark Zuckerberg: Start Small, Think Big

                Valued at over 55 billion dollars today, Mark Zuckerberg built the first version of what would become a social networking giant in his Harvard University dorm room. As one of the world’s youngest entrepreneurs, Zuckerberg undoubtedly took countless calculated risks to get his brilliant idea to its current status with 2.38 billion active monthly users.

                “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.”

                He’s always daring to explore with a fearless mindset.

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                The young tech entrepreneur never shied away from innovating outside of the box. Soon after Facebook became a hit to users and advertisers, big corporations took interest in buying Facebook from Zuckerberg.

                However, he took the risk and decided to stay with his creation. Turning down billions of dollars offered by Yahoo CEO, Terry Semel, he envisioned turning his brainchild into something much bigger than what it already was then.

                7. Steve Jobs: Live Your Own Dreams

                  Steve Jobs lived a rocky path all his life and an aspect of which is a tumultuous career.

                  The founder of Apple endorsed his beliefs on the temporality of life and limitations of time. He preached about the importance of working on the very legacies people wish to leave behind, an achievement he’s undoubtedly etched into the the archives of human history.

                  Never one to hide under someone’s shadow, Jobs did not live by anybody else’s principles so he formed his own. He tirelessly dedicated himself to building a unique brand of products that became the benchmark for contemporary technology.

                  After his highs and lows through his brief battle with cancer, Jobs concludes with yet another lesson to takeaway from his remarkable life. “No matter how much money you have, even the richest man can’t buy time.”

                  8. Warren Buffett: Balance is Essential to Success

                    Despite being the third wealthiest person in the world, Warrant Buffett sported a frugal lifestyle for most of his life.

                    After buying a house in Omaha, Nebraska for just above 31,000 dollars, he has lived there since 1958. As a leading investor and a founder at Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett believes in setting aside an amount to save and spend only on necessities.

                    With a long term goal as a top priority in mind always, treating oneself can be sustainable once in a while. He advices to save money by deciding first and foremost what aspects to scrimp on and what aspects to splurge on to ensure a happy and balanced lifestyle.

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                    9. Jack Ma: Never Give up

                      On every journey to success, everybody stumbles and arrives at roadblocks. Some more than most, like Jack Ma, who survived countless rejections and failures only to get back up and brave every storm.

                      Ma is the founder of multinational technology conglomerate Alibaba Group. Despite being rejected to Harvard after every one of his 10 applications, Ma was never defeated.

                      His grit and tenacity is a fine testament to the fact that grades do not determine a future. While qualifications on paper are important, the development of skills and an attitude is just as helpful in making a recipe for success.

                      Despite finding himself in the verge of bankruptcy in the 1990s, Jack Ma possessed the resilience to put one foot in front of the other until he finally made it. “It’s important to have patience,” he says.

                      10. Tan Min Liang: Passion Can Pay Off

                        Tan Min Liang is the founder of the leading high-performance gaming hardware, Razer. Always on the look out for new opportunities to connect and scale his business, Tan has been bold in making many of his life’s decisions.

                        Having deviated from a traditional path set by a family that consists of doctors and lawyers, Tan was to find his life’s work and passion while gaming with his older brother.

                        The idea was simple: there were so many games out there to play, however, there were hardly any gaming equipment to match this.

                        So he dropped out of law and began going a different direction, into creating solutions in the gaming industry. At the start of 2019, Tan wrote to tech luminary Elon Musk to which Musk’s reply suggested of a joint venture between two of the most successful entrepreneurs today.

                        Final Thoughts

                        In today’s cutthroat world, the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur is a long and arduous process trailed with ups and downs. A valuable lesson that a good hand of entrepreneurs would love to convey to aspiring entrepreneurs is to keep the spirit of innovation and to explore uncharted waters.

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                        Learning from experience and failure is one direction to a desired end goal. Exhibiting the same dedication and grit so many entrepreneurs have through their unexpected careers – today’s budding visionaries ought to hang on their dreams and leave room for improvement along the way.

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                        Featured photo credit: Patrick Tomasso via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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