Division Vice President, Facility Solutions, Sodexo Health Care Divison

What is your definition of leadership? My definition is centered on creativity. Creating an atmosphere for my team to excel is my ultimate goal. The right environment ensures that my entire team is aligned and focused on achieving sustainable results. Team members must feel comfortable thinking “outside of the box”, and shouldn’t be fearful of voicing opinions to assist in the decision process. This creativity extends to how decisions are made. Ethics and long-term organizational benefit always trumps short-term gain. The creativity to ensure that I deal constructively with perceived failures includes those times when ‘failure’ results from taking ‘smart risks.’ These should be rewarded and viewed as learning experiences. This all goes back to creativity—the atmosphere the leader creates to ensure that all team members are free to think and communicate openly. This enables teams to work at their optimum.

What is your most rewarding career accomplishment? Leaving a very successful career at Ford Motor Company to join my wife and baby daughter in Chicago ended up being the best career accomplishment I’ve made. I had been commuting back and forth between Detroit and Chicago, and Ford wanted me to move to Atlanta for a great career opportunity. I made what was perceived by many to be a huge career sacrifice by choosing to turn down that opportunity. It was the best decision for my family and ultimately led me to Sodexo. It made me realize the importance of balancing all aspects of life to truly excel in a career. It’s a lesson I have never forgotten and I believe has contributed to the success I have had thus far in my career.

Headquarters: Gaithersburg, Maryland
Web site: www.sodexo.com
Primary Business: Comprehensive service solutions
Employees: 125,000 in North America, 355,000 Globally

What’s the worst fault a leader can have? Not trusting the team and believing that the leader must micromanage the team to be successful. I believe the best compliment a leader can receive is when people talk about the team’s success in terms of the individuals that make up the team vs. the success of the leader. Some leaders are uncomfortable with this, but not me. I believe the more recognition that is lavished on my team members, the more successful I feel as the team’s leader.

What advice can you provide for young leaders? Again, the best advice I can give is to define your success based on the overall success of your team. Your team should have the experience and confidence to make their own decisions, take risks, share their opinions, etc. And, especially critical in today’s complex business environment, instill a strong sense of ethics in your team. Create an environment where team is first and ethical behavior is the hallmark. Instill this by living it day in and day out.