When it comes to strong and innovative leadership, the Columbus Region has it in spades.
One of the best venues for learning from our top leaders, I’ve found, is the Columbus Chamber’s “CEO Insights” series. Over the last year or so, I’ve attended a few of these quarterly events. And no matter the speaker, they never disappoint. The events are held in an intimate theater setting at Dawson, and it feels like a personal conversation with the guest of honor.
Last week, CEO Insights featured Dan Creekmur, President of Columbia Gas of Ohio. This event gave me a peek into what drives him and has helped him become so successful. A few of the key leadership lessons I took away include:
Be ready to do something completely new and different on your leadership path. Move between business units, disciplines, and experiences to make you a well-rounded leader and ready for the next level.
Age really doesn’t matter. Yes, Dan became president of Columbia Gas of Ohio at 35, but that really doesn’t interest him as much as it interests others. Focus on your preparedness and the mentors you surround yourself with.
Styles shift as we grow into different levels of leadership. Dan shared that his previous style was very results-focused, and of course results still matter. But as his leadership style has evolved, he hopes that results have taken a backseat to being focused on people and culture first.
People + Culture = Results. When we give people authority, autonomy, and challenge, this builds their sense of taking initiative. When they believe in taking initiative, they will show up differently. They’ll dig deeper for you.
Mentorship matters. When we connect with people who care about us personally and care about our progress, it opens entirely new opportunities. They’ll take a greater interest in our progress and in opening doors for us. They’ll coach us to succeed. That level of caring also encourages us to help others. Even if you’re in an earlier career stage, you can still be a mentor. As we grow in our careers, it’s important to take the opportunity to pay it forward when we’re in the position to do so.
Have intentional conversations about your career growth. Do you share your aspirations with others? When you’re willing to do that, and you back it up with the quality of your work and the willingness to show up – opportunities will be presented to you. There is a timing element to all of this. The right opportunities take time to develop. But when others know what you’re aspiring to, and the timing becomes right, the opportunities will be there.
Do your job well. This is the first step along the leadership path. When you’re known as someone who does their job well, it will begin to open other opportunities for you.
Volunteer. This means raising your hand within the walls of your organization and also within your community. For example, is there a giving campaign your company sponsors? Raise your hand to serve on the board. Is there another cause that’s important to you? Get out into the community and be of service. This element shows another side of you, that you’re able to lead in other facets outside of your field of expertise. It demonstrates your willingness to show up.
Build a network. When you do your job well, and you raise your hand, you’ll build a network you would never be able to otherwise. It’s the cultivating of your network that allows you to create opportunities for yourself and for others.
Thanks to Dan and the Columbus Chamber for a truly insightful and inspirational morning. I look forward to learning more at the next CEO Insights event. If you’d like to check out the Chamber’s programming, too, visit their events page.
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