The other day my wife leaned over and showed me something our daughter Julia had posted to a social media site. One of Julia’s friends had commented about what they were planning to do for a living after graduation. Julia responded to the post with, “When I graduate, I want to be my Dad.” At first I said to my wife, “Why would Julia want to be a 51 year old, out-of-shape male?” All joking aside, it hit me. This was quite possibly my proudest father moment of all time.
As working parents, we all struggle with work/life balance and trying to get our priorities aligned. My job as Office of the President and COO of GreatAmerica has required a great deal of travel and evening commitments. Because of these commitments I would often miss time with my daughter or events in her life, which was always difficult. However, this high-intensity job has also energized and inspired me. Once I dug into the ‘why’ behind Julia’s post, I understood that over time, she had witnessed the joy I get out of my work, and wanted that for herself someday.
Julia is my only child so our family is small and very close-knit. Being an only child, she was often included in our adult conversations and it wasn’t unusual for me to share things about my work day around the dinner table. She’d often hear about our latest product development or an interesting client dinner.
David Pohlman, Member, Office of the President and COO, GreatAmerica Financial Services, with his daughter, Julia
Julia told me it was so apparent how much I love GreatAmerica and the people here. She could always feel the passion I have for our customers and the excitement I would feel when I helped them, even in a small way. It was wonderful to have my daughter take notice that I felt this way.
While I know I’m not curing cancer, I do feel strongly that our work at GreatAmerica provides meaningful solutions to our partners. We aid them in helping their customers acquire the equipment and software they need to run their businesses effectively. Ultimately, our customers are largely small to medium businesses who are economic engines and job creators. Impacting these types of companies makes a difference on a large scale.
Two Things I’ve Enjoyed Most in My Career
Bringing new and innovative concepts to the industry and helping others develop and grow are the two things I have enjoyed most about my career. It was my father who impressed upon me the importance of and fulfillment that can come from helping other people achieve their goals. At a certain point in my career I started to experience that – and what a great feeling it can be to know you’ve identified high potential people and had some sort of influence as they evolve, grow and achieve success.
Developing High Potential Employees
For leaders who are looking to focus more on developing high potential employees, I think it’s important to start by simply becoming more aware. When you spot an employee that has ability, desire and talent, it’s important to recognize it. There are many ways in which to do this, some of which include:
- Open doors for them by making introductions or asking they be included in larger projects.
- Invest in them heavily. Make time to mentor them.
- Identify development opportunities for these high potential employees. Perhaps assist them with being a peer leader or invite them help you with implementing a particular project.
- Allow them to experience leadership on a small scale. For example, allow them to take on responsibilities at meetings, etc… Even smaller opportunities prove to be good training for leadership.
The benefit of doing this is not just for the individual, but also is extremely gratifying as the leader/mentor. This approach helps build a core of strong people in your organization, which is critical for any growing business.
Enjoy Your Work and You’ll Reap Unplanned Rewards
Another thing Julia conveyed to me was that she had watched her friends’ parents have a completely different experience with their occupations. Some of them are counting the days to retirement and have a mindset that work is something they have to do vs something they want to do.
While not every day at the office is unicorns and rainbows, I do genuinely enjoy my work at GreatAmerica and the people (both team members and customers) I have the honor to work with. Enjoying what you do each day is critically important in life, so I couldn’t be happier that this has not gone unnoticed by my daughter.
Julia is now pursuing a degree in Business Leadership and Communications at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. She finds joy in her studies because she feels she is on a path to loving her career, and will be able to impact the lives of many. There is nothing more I could want for my daughter than what I have every day in my own job at GreatAmerica.
Resources: for more ideas on developing leaders, read From Captain to Corporate: Leadership Tips for the Young Leader
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