We are living in the Renaissance of Work. Just like great artists know that an empty canvas can become anything, great leaders know that an entire organization — and the people inside it — can become anything, too. Master Artists and Mastering the Art of Leadership draw from the same source: creation. In this series, we’ll meet masters who are creating the future of work and painting a portrait of lasting leadership. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jerome Myers.
Jerome Myers was wrestling with these questions and more when he was considering leaving corporate America. For two years in a row after achieving 30% profit margins on 20 million dollars in revenue he found himself laying people off in the holidays. Determined to take back control of his life he dropped out of the rat race to pursue his passion of developing people. He is the founder and Chief Inspiration Officer of The Myers Development Group a boutique coaching firm that supports founders and executives who see their work as more than a way to earn a living. Through the D.R.E.A.M framework and the Red Pill Model his company helps apex performers bridge the gaps in their lives that are not allowing their dreams to become real.
Since leaving corporate America, Jerome has become one of the most sought after thought leaders in the leadership development space. His company has worked with over 50 clients from the Fortune 100 to founders of very successful small businesses to bolster leadership competencies of existing leaders.
This success has led to him being the keynote speaker at the Fall Convocation for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and national conferences like FreedomFest, Best of Year Summit, Multifamily Investor Nation Summit, Deal Maker 2021, Deal Maker Live, Mid-Atlantic Multifamily Investing Conference and Flyover Podcast Festival. Jerome has also been asked to be a speaker at mastermind gathers across the world and top podcasts such as Top Advisor Marketing, Podcasting, Business School, Take the Lead, Making Bank, The Entrepreneur Way, The Vault, Breakfast Leadership Show, and about 300 more. Additionally, he has been featured in Black Enterprise, Business insider, Benzinga, Biznow, NBC, and Authority Magazine.
Jerome is a licensed general contractor and engineer as well a certified project management professional and six sigma master black belt.
He holds a graduate degree in business administration from Longwood University and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Thank you for joining us. Our readers would enjoy discovering something interesting about you. What are you in the middle of right now that you’re excited about personally or professionally?
We are getting ready to release our first book on leadership. It’s called Values Based Leadership for Financial Services Professionals. It’s aimed at growing more leaders in the financial services space who stand on their moral convictions.
We all get by with a little help from our friends. Who is the leader that has influenced you the most, and how?
My dad by far had the most leadership influence on me. He retired from the military as a noncommissioned officer and is now the Postmaster and a Town Councilman for his community. As a child I watched him demonstrate servant leadership in the community through varies civic and religious organizations. I also had a front row seat as he showed up authentically in the workplace and demonstrated compassion and care for the soldiers he was leading.
Sometimes our biggest mistakes lead to our biggest discoveries. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a leader, and what did you discover as a result?
I think my biggest mistake as a leader was not being aware of my leadership lid. When I built that 20MM division at a Fortune 550 company from $0 in revenue over the course of a year I didn’t understand how difficult leading a multidisciplinary and multisite team of close to 200 people would be. While I had been focused on my leadership development over the years I had a steep learning curve related to managing managers and being away from the front lines of customer service to successfully deliver 30% profit margins.
How has your definition of leadership changed or evolved over time? What does it mean to be a leader now?
Being a leader means many things to me now, but I think the most important thing is setting culture. When I was younger, I thought that creating strategy is the most important thing we can do as leaders. This was until I saw poor culture eat the best strategies for lunch. After leading a multi cohort leadership development program at Northwestern Mutual over the last year it was very apparent that improving culture is the fastest way to get financial results. The team we worked with grow by over 30% year over year and the previous year was one of their best years ever.
Success is as often as much about what we stop as what we start. What is one legacy leadership behavior you stopped because you discovered it was no longer valuable or relevant?
Many leaders are the wizard with a thousand helpers. This is probably the most ineffective way to run an organization because it takes away the opportunity for knowledge workers to use their knowledge. We coach leaders to set the culture, mission and constraints then empower their team to go get the results. In order to be successful at scale you must give up time, talent, treasures, relationship or control. We believe giving up control is the one that creates the most leverage.
What is one lasting leadership behavior you started or are cultivating because you believe it is valuable or relevant?
Authenticity is the most important behavior you can have as a leader. It is the fastest way to build trust. Trust leads to improved efficiency. This combined with clarity of mission leads to improved effectiveness.
What advice would you offer to other leaders who are stuck in past playbooks and patterns and may be having a hard time letting go of what made them successful in the past?
What got you here won’t get you there. The environment is changing and if you don’t adapt your organization will suffer. We are seeing a greater percentage of the workforce move to new opportunities because of the remote workplace being offered because of the coronavirus pandemic. The best leaders are attracting the most talented employees.
Many of our readers can relate to the challenge of leading people for the first time. What advice would you offer to new and emerging leaders?
It is better to be respected than liked. As a people leader there will be a pull to make friends with people on your team. While you want them to feel comfortable and open with you crossing over into friendship often negatively impacts your ability to hold them accountable.
Based on your experience or research, what are the top five traits effective leaders exemplify now?
Can we do the story on the follow up call? I don’t know how long they should be or if you will use all of them.
American Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” How do you embody that quote? We welcome a story or example.
Each day I get up and do my lengthy morning routine. This puts me in a creative state where I can summon all of my lived experiences and formal training to create with the clients, we serve in the leadership space. The challenges they bring to us are challenging and often encumbered with undesirable consequences. We see finding the optimal solution as art.
What is the legacy you aspire to leave as a leader?
That companies can treat people well and be rewarded financially.
How can our readers connect with you to continue the conversation?
We are offering them a free copy of our last book Your Dream Should Be Real. They can get that at http://itooktheredpill.co/book
Thank you for a meaningful conversation. We wish you continued success with your mission.