Featured Whistler Question column ~ September 6, 2016: What It Takes to Be a Great Leader
Harvard Business Review defines leadership as “the art and science of getting things done through people.” Furthermore, they describe a leader as a “sense maker: a person who helps others see pattern, meaning and direction in data and events.”
Those rather clinical descriptions seem uninspiring and if you’ve crossed paths with a leader that has left an indelible impression, you know that they possessed more spark than that.
SO WHAT MAKES ONE LEADER STAND OUT ABOVE THE REST? Tweet this
The best leaders undoubtedly achieve conditions vital for effectiveness – clear direction, vision, support and development; then bolster that with emotionally intelligent behaviours – insight, empathy, developing others and communication with passion and purpose.
The Whistler community has had its share of visionary leaders and recently gathered to celebrate one of those that has most definitely left a lasting impact on this resort. After three years as the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Executive Officer, Val Litwin is vacating his post to join the BC Chamber.
When he moved to Whistler back in 2013, he shared in a Pique Newsmagazine interview that his entrepreneurial background enabled him to understand our unique business community. He related to the challenges of owning and running a small business and opined that, “it’s all about value creation, leveraging partnerships, finding synergies.”
He has indeed accomplished that and so much more.
During his tenure, Val elevated the Whistler Chamber as a formidable resort partner and served as an advocate with a strong voice to move the dial on provincial and national issues. He listened to the community and surged forward to champion the best interests of Whistler in many arenas. A strong example was his part in a contingent of national organizations that gave testimony to a parliamentary committee to revisit the Temporary Foreign Workers rules. Another is the educational partnership established with the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business that equips local businesses with a framework to deliver exceptional customer service.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
And numbers don’t lie. The Whistler Chamber is the province’s fastest growing chamber of commerce and over the last few years under Val’s leadership, annual revenue has gone from $700,000 to next year’s projected $1.1 million. These are just some of the many examples that clearly show why he has garnered respect from those that have witnessed his accomplishments.
At his farewell party, Val’s qualities were touted in speeches and casual conversations around the room. He listens and cares — those two things apparently go hand in hand with Val. He has the perfect blend of warmth, humor, and authenticity. He is trustworthy and reliable. He is smart, possesses strong entrepreneurial knowledge, has vision and takes action.
Leadership expert John Maxwell affirms, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
BETTER THAN WHEN THEY GOT THERE
Admittedly, perhaps the most memorable thing a leader can do is leave an organization primed for growth, sustainability and success. Better than when they got there. Thanks for doing that Val.
Cathy Goddard is launching Year 6 of Lighthouse Mentor Network, a mentor program nominated for Small Business BC Awards 4 consecutive years and was a Finalist for their 2016 Premier’s People’s Choice Award. She writes this business column for the Whistler Question newspaper.