Mental acuity, the desire for employees (and customers) to succeed, and a positive attitude together go far in terms of being an inspirational business leader. While there might occasionally be sprints, the ability to generate these traits for decades has to come from core levels of authenticity ultimately. That part can be trained certainly, but the importance of a good work ethic and positive attitude are the fundamentals. Business leadership comes from the ability to continually find solutions and not give up in the face of challenges. But being inspirational means working to be a light that not only shines in your own way. This also encourages others to let their light shine too and is what differentiates ultimately a great individual contributor versus a leader.
Possessing all these instinctive qualities and more is Marne E. Martin, CEO at Service Power. While playing team sports, she learned from an early age that there is no ‘I’ in a team. The business leaders that are the most inspirational ones are those who live by this and model it every day by example in their organization.
Leading Teams, Companies to Transformation
The desire to meet new challenges and lead people has inspired Marne since she was a little girl. Since Marne first started her career 20 years ago, she promised herself to take whatever opportunity she could succeed at as it would stimulate her to expand her capabilities and make a difference. Leading teams and finding ways to transform companies is the career that resulted from this intellectual drive. The pivotal moment for Marne was at around 27, when she was leading a company and acknowledging all the ways to become an even better manager and more capable leader. At the same time Marne is also proud of her ability to bring value to the organization and continuing to earn the respect of those around her.
Innovating Field Service
Service Power is a software company that has both long standing customers and technology, as well as new logos and new capabilities that are being monetized everyday. Having recently gone private, the company is aiming for an accelerated growth and a more focused go to market.
For Marne, leading this organization towards growth was partly about developing and hiring the people that had a vision and the capability to support growth, organizing the strategic and tactical actions that supported the growth, and making sure that the shareholder and board stakeholders also had a common vision of what the company needed to do, and could do.
Leading By Example
Every important decision revolves around three core activities: 1) how to continue evolving our go to market/product strategy, 2) ways to improve the value we offer to existing customers, and 3) ways to support the achievements of our valued staff. When prioritizing, Marne continues to bring the focus back to these three activities in one way or another.
Inspiring an organization and staff is one of the most important jobs a leader has in an organization. It starts with leading by example related to maintaining curiosity, drive, and demonstrating the ability to work hard to achieve results. But it also requires the ability to show appreciation, praise, and genuine enjoyment in the contributions of staff and the staged improvements or developments in the organization. Marne says, “Inspiring talented individuals to join and stay with a company is one aspect, but continuing to motivate those talented individuals to accomplish stretch goals one little bit at a time is what ultimately transforms an organization.”
A Role Model
Recounting someone who became a role model for Marne, she mentions Senator Mike Mansfield, who was also a friend of her paternal grandfather from Montana. When he was living in Washington, DC, Marne was going to the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service for undergraduate studies. Senator Mansfield is also someone from the West, who had served the country in many different capacities, including internationally, and was working at Goldman Sachs at the time. He had a lot of real life experience about difficult choices in life, integrity, etc. During the time Marne was able to spend with him, she got to learn from his experiences, which was very impactful related to how to maintain the desire to make a difference throughout a long life, and the value of maintaining integrity in business and personal interactions.
An inclination to Curiosity
There are a great deal of opinions about leaders; what they are and what they aren’t. Of those that are considered leaders, the ones that are unique to Marne are the ones that continue to have curiosity. She says, “A leader isn’t very effective that has become jaded. One of the most pressing challenges for leaders today is how to strike the right balance between compassion and competitiveness.” Leaders as much as possible should avoid a zero sum mentality where another has to lose for them to win.
Ability to accommodate during Stress
Despite the multitude of success Marne has achieved, she continues to seek out people that she can learn from, as well as continues every day to consider what she herself can do better.
Advising those in a leadership position, Marne says, “Take a deep breath, be sure to not just listen, but hear what people are and aren’t saying. Be sure to allow enough time for you to think, not just do. And be confident. If they didn’t need or believe in you, you would not be in the role you have earned.” For those that want to be in senior leadership positions, the ability to accommodate and manage the stresses of a top job are also a key to longevity in a career. But most importantly, every leader has to grow to be better; at listening, innovating, caring, but more importantly at leading. And this growth comes from executing on the fundamentals.