by Tom Ealy
What does great leadership look like? The essence of great leadership is engagement. Passionate, intense, personal engagement with all levels of the organization. It’s comprised of 5 things:
You have to actually care deeply about the welfare of your firm and, more importantly, the people you lead; you can’t fake that. Establishing a personal connection with people, actively helping them to succeed, earning their trust, is everything. People generally don’t quit companies, they quit bosses.
Listening to associates, really listening to them, from the bottom to the top, is the strongest evidence that you care. Besides, the truth and the best ideas can generally be found deepest in the organization.
People follow you because they believe in your ability to not only anticipate but shape the future, to see around the corners they themselves may not even see.
It’s not enough to have a vision; you have to be able to compellingly articulate it. People want to be inspired, even the cynics, skeptics, and grizzled veterans. Getting those you lead to not only buy in, but sell out, to your vision requires unabashed self-expression. Enthusiasm and optimism are key ingredients, too
Nothing happens, of course, without action. Great leaders have an action bias, and believe that impatience is a virtue. They also trust their gut, think that more information isn’t always that helpful, and that time is the enemy. Leaders also understand that enlightened self-interest is what makes the world go round, and that the most selfish act is a selfless one.
Thomas V. Ealy, Chief Operating Officer, Willis North America
Tom has been with global insurance broker Willis for almost 9 years, having held several key posts in that time, most notably Chief Operating Officer of Willis North America. In his current role, he is a National Partner, responsible for firm’s Midwest Region. Prior to holding the COO post, Tom authored and implemented Willis North America’s professional development program. He began his tenure at the firm leading a turnaround of its flagship Chicago office as its Managing Partner.
His insurance career spans nearly 29 years, but also includes stints in corporate finance and management consulting. Tom earned his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame and his MBA from Harvard University.
Tom and I worked together at J&H Chicago in the mid-1990s. He is a knowledgeable and dedicated business professional, and I especially admire his careful consideration of how he may best help people succeed in delivering outstanding client service and in advancing their careers.