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.
- 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