THRiVE to become a great leader

ING Direct Canada announced the launch of its new THRiVE no-fee daily chequing account on Wednesday afternoon from Toronto’s downtown Eaton Centre in front of a live and web audience.

Once again, ING is at the forefront of putting the client first in an industry that is often unkind to the average Joe.

What struck me most while watching the event unfold was not the fancy A/V system or the interesting social media aspects of the campaign (which are always first rate with this crew), but the leadership of ING’s President & CEO Peter Aceto.

Sitting among many of his colleagues, I noticed a buzz of excitement as they watched their boss address the crowd gathered around the sea of orange. You had the feeling that each employee believed in Mr. Aceto’s vision and direction.

Having paid close attention to what qualities make a great leader during my studies at the Rotman School of Management, it is always interesting to watch CEOs operate at a public event. Many people talk a good leadership game, but watching it unfold in real time with a great leader is a treat to see.

Mr. Aceto appears to have a down-to-earth quality about him as he mingles with strangers gathered in one of Toronto’s busiest malls. He was equally at ease at a party ING threw a few months back for the launch of its mobile app.

The biggest testament to Mr. Aceto’s leadership may be the public comments by his staff through various social media platforms. It is clear they are willing to do what it takes to get the job done for him.

It takes tremendous social awareness to be a leader at this level and it is clear why ING seems to recognize the customer’s needs so regularly.

Probably the best leader I ever worked for was Keith Pelley, then President & CEO of the Toronto Argonauts. Working for Keith was special. He was one of those guys whom you would run through a brick wall for. Conversely, he would be the first to stand up for his employees.

One of my favourite examples of Keith occurred the day a group of Argonauts front office employees went to donate blood. Keith caught wind of what we were up to. He instantly cleared his schedule and marched down to the clinic with the rest of us. Minutes after giving blood his fiery energy returned and he was racing back up the hill to his office to continue working. The rest of us stayed behind to eat cookies and recover.

Some of the best leadership traits that Keith possessed include a positive attitude… always, upbeat, energetic and constantly full of new ideas.

I still recall Keith entering the office like a whirlwind with a 1,001 questions. A quick pat on the back and a, ‘That’s great pal’ to your update was the usual scene.

Interactions with Keith were always short, but you left feeling appreciated and motivated. It also forced you to be concise whenever you had an idea to share with him.

Like Mr. Aceto, Keith was down-to-earth and had no trouble mingling with fans at tailgates or team parties. Again, social awareness.

I won’t sit here and try and pretend that I have the answers to great leadership. But my suggestion to anyone who wants to grow into becoming a leader is to watch and observe great leaders and try and learn from their best traits. As they say, imitation is the best flattery.

Lessons Learned:

  • Always be positive and upbeat
  • Improving social awareness is important for leading others
  • Watch and learn from masters in any field, it is one of the best ways to improve
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About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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6 Responses to THRiVE to become a great leader

  1. Orange Popsicle says:

    Great post. And all true. Whether in the office, while passing you in the hall, sitting at cube next to yours, or on the ice at the weekly pick-up hockey game, as an employee, I have to say that Peter really is a great leader.

    I think one of the things that makes a leader great is that he or she does not ask or demand to be followed. You just want to do your best work for them — alongside them, because the vision that they’ve set before you is truly compelling and shared.

  2. Peter Aceto says:

    What a wonderful blog posting for me to read. Thank you for your kind words. I can only try to live up to this very high standard of leadership. Leadership really is a responsibility. It means a great deal to me that our employees love to come to work each day and that they want to give everything they have to us. With engaged and energized employees we can get anything done that we set our mind too.
    Thank you again for your kind words.
    Today was fun though, hope you saw that part too. Peter.

  3. jaimestein says:

    Thanks for the comments Peter. Appreciate you dropping by. And I did indeed see the fun of yesterday’s event. Great venue to hold it. I enjoyed the videos from across the country.

  4. Nehal Kazim says:

    Well put Jaime. Peter said it best, leadership is a responsibility.

    It’s a responsibility to facilitate an environment for growth.
    It’s a responsibility to help people get back on their feet when the fall down.
    It’s a responsibility to guide the organization/program/project/event/task to success.

    From your suggestions, I’m going to start watching and learning from masters in my field or who I have access to. Thanks for the post Jaime; truly enjoyed it.

  5. jaimestein says:

    Nehal – Thanks for dropping by with some comments. Let me know what tips you pick up from those people around you. Cheers!

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