Hello, and welcome to the Leadership Done Right Podcast, Episode 25: Continuous Learning As A Leader Or Manager with Kevin Sorbello.
Get to Know Kevin
Our guest today was raised in California and graduated from the California Maritime Academy in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering.
Military Sealift Command
He worked for the Military Sealift Command as a Chief Engineer, Port Engineer, and Engineering type desk until 2007, then worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a Chief Engineer and Chief of Fleet Maintenance and Logistics until he retired from federal service in 2012.
He graduated from the Naval War College in 1999 with a Masters in National Security and Strategic Studies and is now completing his PhD dissertation at Walden University. He is currently a program manager for a government contractor providing technical support for his two former employers.
Outside Work and Career
He is also a family man and has been married for 37 years, with 3 children and 5 grandchildren. His hobbies include writing poetry, music, and playing guitar in a local bluegrass band.
My Personal Connection
I connected with him through some LinkedIn groups a few years back. I’ve learned a lot from his knowledge, experience, and expertise. He really knows a lot about the traits of good leadership. Our guest today is Kevin Sorbello. Kevin, welcome to the show!
Continuous Learning As a Leader or Manager
I believe that if you are not learning on a continual basis, you are not doing it right. The learning opportunities are continuous. When you really pay attention to what you are doing, there is one opportunity after another.
The challenging part is that there is a significant difference between leadership and management. People often confuse the two. Managers have leadership capabilities and responsibilities. Leaders also have to know a bit about management, but they are actually working in opposition.
Leaders change and adapt to the environment and managers maintain the status quo, but do it better. Managers increase the efficiency of the status quo. Managers don’t like to change and leaders don’t like to stay the same. They realize they have to go in different directions to stay viable.
When people think of leadership, they think of the good or great leader. They establish traits like good communicator, positive attitude, and moving things in a constructive direction.
Good leadership traits are different from effective leadership. You can be an effective leader and a bad person. One could argue that Hitler was an effective leader, but very few would argue that he was good guy or good leader. There is a difference.
Some of the attributes that we say would mark a good leader, aren’t necessarily effective in all cases. Effective leadership is when the leaders can get people to follow them. Followers must surrender a portion of their decision making requirements to the leader so they can follow the leader.
Kevin’s Leadership Journey
People don’t always make the decision to be a leader. There were circumstances that allowed me to rise to positions where I was expected to be a leader. I just naturally assumed that role. There’s other times where I attempted to take the role of leadership, but didn’t do so. The people that would’ve been the followers chose to go in a different direction because either another person was more charismatic or they owed loyalty to them. You can’t always choose to be a leader.
It’s more along the lines of choosing to accept the role of leader. When I did accept it, it was because I felt that I had a positive vision I could convey. I felt it was positive for people’s direction and quality of life. I felt I could convey it and people would support me.
Many people have come behind me and asked what was important about leadership. I told them it was more important to have loyalty than talent. I can rent talent, but I can’t rent loyalty.
Nobody sees the same thing. Everyone sees things different. Everyone has their own personal biases, history, and the way they view reality is their reality.
We share a majority of what we see with others. If you try to lead thinking everyone sees things the same way you do, you are going to fail. You have to be flexible to understand that other people see things differently. Find a way to motivate people so they want to see things your way or at least accept the majority of it to start moving in that direction. If you can’t do that, then you are not effective as a leader.
The Speed Round
- Who is the one leader you look up to most and why? My 7th and 8th grade science teacher because he inspired people to do more than they thought they could. He taught us to question everything and to doubt with discretion. He gave us problems and told us to go find the answers.
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Never assume that others see the world through your eyes.
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? Look at each situation as unique and look at it from more than one perspective anticipating issues that could arise when others see things differently.
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? Make it so: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek the Next Generation Wess Roberts and Bill Ross It explains how they modeled the leadership style of Captain Picard. He was very adaptive as a leader. He was hard when he needed to be hard, gentle when he needed to be gentle, and he understands the situation before he had to make a decision.
- On a light-hearted note, what is your favorite hobby? Write and play music. I also enjoy astrophysics, riding motorcycles, camping, cooking, draw paint and sculp. My hobbies are very diverse.
Connect With Kevin
What’s the best way to connect with Kevin?
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-sorbello-51829027/
- Email: Coolsteam@aol.com
One Final Question
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice when you first started your leadership journey, what would it be and why? When in doubt, be kind.
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Thanks again for listening! My goal is to help you become a great leader, now go be the best leader you can be!