The Role of an Effective Leader

Be Different. Deliver Excellence.

Leaders of GreatAmerica | Collabrance

Nov 12, 2019

Image Above : Tony Golobic (Founder of GreatAmerica Financial Services), Stan Herkelman (President), and 9 other GreatAmerican Leaders at Annual GreatAmerica Leader Retreat 2019.

Putting People First as a Leader

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a day-and-a-half offsite retreat with Tony Golobic (Founder of GreatAmerica Financial Services), Stan Herkelman (President), and 9 other GreatAmerica Leaders. This is an important annual tradition for GreatAmerica Leaders to participate in when they are newer to their role.

As leaders, it is critical that we continue to make our people the #1 priority by opening doors for those we see potential in, and enabling them with further growth opportunities.

During our time together, we heard Tony’s background story in great detail to understand the foundation of the company, why and how GreatAmerica was started, its purpose and also focusing time together discussing how to become even better leaders.

Essential Traits for Effective Leadership at GreatAmerica:

  1. Compassion: Having compassion is critical to being a good leader. We must take care of our people who share our values and ensure they are in the right role. If they are not being used to their total potential, it is our job as leaders to guide them towards the right path. Tony states, “If someone is in the wrong role but a strong GreatAmerican, we will find them a spot that is a better fit for them, even if that spot hasn’t been yet created.”
  2. Inspiration: The role of a leader is to inspire others. One way this can be done is to paint an exciting vision of where we are going, of why we are here and how everyone can make a difference in the lives of everyone they touch. An important element in doing so is also emphasizing what’s in it for them. Tony also emphasizes not be afraid to repeat important messages over and over again. Repetition is another the way to reach your subconscious thinking and ensure the message sticks!

    As someone tours the GreatAmerica building, they will see inspirational quotes on the walls. The writing on our walls is an example of repetition done at GreatAmerica. This is a constant reminder of who we are as a company, and something we see every single day.

    Tony Golobic CEO and Founder of GreatAmerica Image Above: Tony Golobic by quote on wall in GreatAmerica Building, "Today is the best day ever, and tomorrow will be even better!"

  3. Optimism: Believe tomorrow will be a better day, no matter how good today is, because we can make it so. Be truthful when things are going badly, but point the way out and how we need everyone on board then more than ever. If things are going badly, your employees will know this, whether you tell them or not. This demonstrates your credibility, and shows your team your confidence in them and in the overall vision and strategy.

  4. Integrity: A leader must practice what they preach. Walk the walk! This means even when others aren’t looking. Additionally, Tony talked about the importance of truly believing that employees are GreatAmerica’s greatest assets. He pointed out if we would ever find ourselves in trouble, will never turn to laying off our people, no matter what. They are not the ones who would get us in trouble; the fault would be with us as leaders. At all times, good or bad, we must take care of our people, our greatest asset. Tony also talked about the number one rule at GreatAmerica: Always try to do the right thing, the right thing for everyone involved, no matter the cost to us. Doing the right thing will fill us with pride.

By embracing these traits and identifying the potential in our people as leaders, we will continue to successfully grow as a company.

"Our GreatAmericans, empowered by our culture, are the only difference between us and our competition, between our success and our failure!" - Tony Golobic

Tony credits his success to the people throughout his life who have seen potential in him that he himself did not see, and who have opened doors for him and encouraged him to walk through them. He pointed out to us that as leaders, we will have the privilege to be able to do the same for others and make a difference in their lives.

What does leadership mean to you?

My biggest takeaway from our time together is that we work for a one-of-a-kind company who truly cares about their people and their customers. Together, we will be more successful than as individuals. As a leader, I believe putting our people first and sticking to our beliefs that made us successful in the first place, we will preserve our strong company culture, maintain our tenure, continuously increase our customer satisfaction and fuel steady growth of our company.

Category: Leadership

About The Author

Hannah O'Donnell

Hannah O'Donnell, Director of Sales, is responsible for building the strategic vision for sales and marketing while providing business planning, education, training, and sales assistance to partners. She is also responsible for originating new partnerships for Collabrance. She was recognized as one of 2019's Women of the Channel by CRN, a brand of The Channel Company. Hannah started at Collabrance in 2013 as a Strategic Business Advisor. In 2014, Hannah was nominated by her peers and won Rookie of the Year, and in 2015 became a member of the 100% Sales Achievement Club at GreatAmerica. Hannah earned her business degree in Marketing and Management Information Systems from the University of Iowa.