Welcome to the I Am A Leader blog series, featuring leaders who make a difference. Today’s guest blogger is Nathan Green. Nathan Green is co-founder of campus2careers (c2c) and the Austin Young Chamber (AYC). c2c is the fastest growing entry-level job board on the net, while AYC is the second largest chamber in the city and the largest young professionals organization in the state. Prior to these endeavors, Nathan was the youngest executive at Pearson, a global 300 company, where he was responsible for their worldwide Talent Assessment business. Nathan began his career in consulting with Accenture, and has also held executive positions in two other Strategy and Technology consultancies. He is a two-time finalist for the Austin Under 40 Awards in the Technology category and led a panel on the future of Education at SXSW this year. Nathan is a graduate of Cornell University and started his first business in college, which he sold when his parents told him to get a real job.
Two weeks ago my wife and I had our first child, Asher Green. As someone who has always (and often only) measured my self-worth based on my work ethic, and then business successes, fatherhood presented a unique challenge to my identity. As the owner of a high-growth start-up and a self diagnosed workaholic, I knew I would need to find a role model/mentor to help me find balance in this next phase of life. A week before Asher was born, my parents came to Austin to help out, and I realized that the leader I needed most in my life had been there all along.
Growing up my dad ran a successful law-firm, but I can’t remember a time where his work got in the way of something important to me or my family. He figured out how to prioritize clients, cases, and his children. And like any good leader, he surrounded himself with a great team, my mom, grandparents, and cousins who were always around to help.
Here are a few things I have learned from the leader of my family (both nuclear and extended) that I plan to apply to fatherhood and you can apply to the work world:
– Learn to prioritize and invest in what matters most
– Give lots of praise and support
– Ask others for their opinions/make them feel valued
– Learn to delegate and empower others
– Help each person identify and develop their unique strengths
– Remove barriers for others so they can succeed
The best leaders, like good parents, are there to support their team, let each employee become the best version of themselves, and remove any barriers to their growth and the businesses development.
My Leadership Path
I remember this moment vividly, I was 28 years old and one of the youngest managers at Accenture in NYC. People had been telling me for a few years that I was on the path to Partnership. I was being interviewed by the owner of a boutique strategy firm for a Director position and I felt completely unqualified. After the interview, I asked him: What makes you think I am even qualified for this position? He said, “sometimes you see things in others, you don’t see yet in yourself.” It was then that he told me I was a natural leader.
Since then, and perhaps because of his comments/belief in me, I had an even faster ascent up the corporate ladder. At 31, I became the GM of Harcourt’s worldwide Talent Assessment business, and the youngest executive at Pearson when they acquired us. At 33, I co-founded campus2careers and the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce, two of the most widely known organizations in TX. But the first time I really felt like a leader is when I was asked to speak at UT’s MBA program to a room full of peers, people my age who actually had achieved a level of success (getting a graduate degree), I would never pursue.
When I became GM of Harcourt’s Talent Assessment business, I was definitely over-employed. I went from managing projects as a consultant to managing my own P&L as a business operator. I found that running a business is much more challenging because it requires both a long-term and short-term perspective. It also requires that you manage the people below and above you, which takes real leadership. Up to that point, I believed all executives were leaders themselves and did not need to be managed. I learned quickly that a senior title did not make someone a leader.
My Leadership Legacy
I have often thought about what I would leave behind and for whom. Before having my son, I would have said my legacy will be a business that I plan to pass down to my kids. Now that I have a child of my own, the legacy I hope to leave is a stronger generation that can accomplish the goals and virtues we have not. To help my children become the leaders that can help solve global issues like world hunger, war, and human trafficking. A leader is only as good as the successor they pick for themselves, and I hope to have a family that improves on what my wife and I have both accomplished for themselves and for our society.
A special thank you to Nathan Green for sharing his insights about leadership with us today! Stay tuned every Friday as the I Am A Leader blog series continues. Please share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter using the #iamaLEADER hash tag! You can connect with SOS Leadership on Twitter here and campus2careers here.