Good leaders recognize and embrace workforce diversity, globalization, technology and character. That’s what Anthony James, former president and CEO of Savannah Electric and Power Company and a retired Southern Company executive vice president, told nearly 50 community leaders and CEOs today at the Georgia Tech Learning Series event held at the Georgia Tech-Savannah campus. “We have the most diverse workforce ever today. When every employee feels valued, respected and productive, the business is stronger,” James said. “Effective leaders understand how to engage employees to become a productive team. Unless employees trust their leader, they will never discuss important matters.”
James also gave the following advice for developing good leaders: 1) In an increasingly globalized market, employees need to be comfortable doing business internationally, especially Asia. 2) Cost pressure has increased virtual teams working together from a physical distance, but nothing replaces face-to-face interaction, a key component of building relationships. 3) There is an increased interest in the integrity and character of business leaders, and leadership ethics are an imperative for success. 4) Your reputation is actually your brand — and it is your responsibility.
In addition to James, attendees heard from Ned Ellington, a former research faculty member at Georgia Tech, who complemented James’ practical experience with his academic research findings. “Good theories eventually become common sense,” Ellington said. “Good leaders have to have integrity, an ability to communicate with clarity, good listening skills, a genuine like of people, and a desire to play to win. Leadership, truly, is a team sport.”
James and Ellington were the most recent speakers in Georgia Tech-Savannah’s Learning Series, an effort launched last October in an effort to help companies in the coastal region stay current. To date, members of the coastal community have heard speakers on topics of relevance to the business community, including mobile apps and malware. The June event will focus on sustainability challenges for the port.