Healing the Corporate World. Doesn’t that just sound inspiring? It sure did to me, when Maria Gamb and her book of the same name recently crossed my path. Maria reached out to me when she saw a promotion I ran for my book and we promptly connected over being first time authors – and sharing the same name.
So who is Maria Gamb? She’s a former Fortune 500 trailblazer who served for twenty-plus years as an executive in businesses valued at upwards of 100 million dollars. Today, she is founder, CEO, and “Chief Change Agent” of NMS Communications, where she helps executives and entrepreneurs alike lead profitable, innovative businesses A leadership expert, Maria Gamb, launched her first book this past October. Healing The Corporate World: How Value-Based Leadership Transforms Business From the Inside Out. It will soon be available in digital format.
Her passion is to help businesspeople transform themselves and find their happiness, success and fulfillment. Maria is a native New Yorker, animal lover, avid cook and total foodie (all of which we also have in common!)
RS: Welcome, Maria! Seems to be a huge trend of entrepreneurship going on in our world today. Why?
MG: I think there are several reasons why entrepreneurship is on the rise: One, job cuts and the lack of new work have fostered the opportunity for many to take action on the dreams they’ve long held close to their chest. Two, some are done with the frustrations of the corporate arena and believe they can do it better. So rather than complaining they are taking action. Three, there are those who realize that they want to be more in control of their financial stability since the existing establishments haven’t proven to be as secure as the past. And finally, four, they just have a great idea they know they want to get out into the world.
The reasons for entrepreneurship vary but the economic issues of the past few years have been a huge catalyst for sure.
RS: What do you see as the fundamental challenge with the way corporate America operates today?
MG: Fundamentally, one of the issues within corporations is that they are often times wrapped in fear. Fear is the easiest and most concise word to use. Fear of changing direction. Fear of expanding or moving into something new. Fear that they may fail. Fear of doing something beyond the status quo. These fears are magnified in their people and how they operate with one another every single day.
During President Obama’s State of Union address recently he spoke about the need for innovation and newness in business. That this, in fact, will bring about new jobs for American workers. It does take a measure of bravery by the organization, the leaders at the top, cooperation of middle management and the people within. Without a doubt, it’s a matter of saying “we’re all in this together” rather than “let me just think about me and what I have or want”.
This is only one of the major shifts that need to occur. Many reading this will say “OK, but that doesn’t work where I work. So I’m out of luck”. Well, this may be true in one regard – perhaps those around you are not willing to shift.
So I would respond by asking what that person is doing within their own sphere of influence to foster their team to work beyond their own fear and perceived limitations to become a positive utopia within what may be a less-than-ideal situation. You see, it all starts with one or two people making the decision to shift their own way of working, then others follow. That’s what creates a movement. My book Healing The Corporate World goes into this in greater detail and extends this invitation to the reader.
RS: I love the idea of focusing on your own “sphere of influence” rather than trying to boil the ocean; reminds me of the principles in Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin. So how do you define ‘leadership’? How do we know it when we see it?
MG: Plain and simply put, the correct definition of a “leader” is a person who is in service to others. Yes, service. Not a doormat. But in service to the people around them. How we know that this person is truly a leader is ask a few questions:
Do they care more about those they lead or themselves?
Are they committed to the enrichment and achievement of others?
Are they constantly seeking ways to grow, expand and create more opportunities for others? Which can mean jobs but may also mean advancement.
There are several other attributes of a powerful leader. But this is a good starting point. Remember, a great leader inspires, nurtures, provides vision and advancement to others. That’s what the “service” part of the definition truly means. When you have a person who can do these things, others follow them with enormous loyalty.
RS: What is your key piece of advice for developing our own leadership potential within ourselves?
MG: Being a leader is very much a journey of recognizing who you are, what motivates you and putting down your ego to allow others to shine. I offer these 3 points:
- Be willing to put down your own “stuff” and “need to be right” all the time. It only shows your insecurity when you do.
- Be willing to partner with others. Otherwise you’ll be a leader in isolation. And well, that’s not a leader at all it’s just someone talking to themselves.
- Operate from a set of values that you hold dear. Then never compromise your actions. Those around you are always watching to see – do you mean what you say? Yes? Then take the actions that follow that no matter what. This builds trust.