Excerpt from Tom's chapter published in Money Matters Business Leaders Edition Vol #2:
LEADERSHIP AS EASY AS 1-2-3 AND A-B-C
By Tom Wiggins
Four decades ago, as a college freshman in 1979, I began to understand the distinction between the most basic definition of a “professional” as someone who is paid to perform a service and the more nuanced definition of a “professional” as a person who has achieved mastery of their craft.
In the first example, someone working in the world’s oldest profession is clearly “professional.” In the second example, we think of people who are outstanding within their particular area of expertise in fields as diverse as business, sports, politics, academics, the arts, and the military, among others.
Working in an entry-level union job during high school, I made good money but didn’t feel that the basic work that I did qualified me as a professional or a master of the craft. It was during my college internships that I began to have an appreciation for this higher level of professionalism. I apprenticed in a wide range of disciplines with an eye towards learning from the best... and sometimes learning what not to do from the rest.
As my professional development continued after college and graduate school, I came to appreciate the quality of leadership. Long a believer in the old adage that the harder you work, the luckier you get, I have been lucky enough to observe outstanding examples of leadership in a variety of professional settings.
The Accidental Leader
My first brush with leadership was as an accidental leader in my first year of college. It was a pivotal experience. I was a 17-year-old college freshman when I joined a large national fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp). Shortly after joining, I was elected president of the chapter. This was a tremendous change for me as I literally had no prior leadership experience. Heck, I’d never even been a recess line leader in elementary school.
How I became president of an organization that I had just joined was a result of a fundamental change in the fraternity system at that specific college at that time. That was the first year that a national fraternity was created at a college with an established system of local fraternities. This meant that there was no existing leadership within this new chapter; someone would need to fill the role of leading this new organization.
The accidental nature of my first brush with leadership came when I found myself being “voluntold” by others that I should seek election for the top spot of the newly established fraternity chapter. I chose to say yes and that made all the difference as we set about to create the organizational structure for the newly developing chapter.
In that initial experience as an accidental leader, I formed the basis of my leadership philosophy of 1-2-3 and A-B-C. This philosophy would be stated and re-stated by other leaders in the fraternity, in the world of management consulting after college, and in my later journeys through professional worlds as disparate as wealth management and automotive research and development.
Read the rest of Tom's chapter along with the other authors in the book by purchasing on Amazon here.