5 guideposts to lead you toward award-winning excellence

leadership award

Do you know what makes a top-performing leader? Skillful decision-making and the ability to execute.

2022 member excellence award book

You become the backbone of your company’s performance when you set the direction of culture and values, model best practices for communication and alignment, and lead strategic planning efforts. You lead its climb toward success.

But building your leadership strengths and developing your soft spots requires guideposts to show you the way.

Thankfully, the stories contained in our new e-book “The Path to Success,” showcase the 2022 Vistage Member Excellence Award winners who have met those challenges and inspired others.

Here are just a few of their stories, each one exemplifying the lessons learned along the way.

Guidepost No. 1: Mission, Vision, Purpose 

Lance Henning Lance Henning | Des Moines, Iowa
CEO, Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity
Vistage member since 2012

About 25 years ago, Lance Henning went through a spiritual gifts study. He told the study group that his dream job would be with Habitat for Humanity. Miraculously, a few months later he learned of an opening.

With Habitat ever since, Lance took the Greater Des Moines affiliate from a small, local operation to a regional player that ranked 2nd in the nation for families served in 2021.

He’s most proud of “widening the path to homeownership for more families and finding more ways to help them become mortgage-ready.”

Handing over the keys to a new home for 450 families and alleviating the burden of home repairs with more than 2,000 families are just two ways Lance and Habitat for Humanity are positively changing the world.

Tips Lance picked up along the climb:

  1. Under-promise and over-deliver.
  2. Relationships are huge. Trust your people to do their job.
  3. Keep engaging those around you — your staff, officials and community members.

Guidepost No. 2: Strategic Planning

Grenee MartachoGrenee Martacho | Mesa, Arizona
CEO, Concord
Vistage member since 2020

The third-generation leader at 50-year-old Concord General Contracting had a leader’s mindset 11 years ago when she crafted the company’s first strategic plan as a marketing employee.

Today, the CEO celebrates a successful ESOP transition to 100% employee ownership completed in just two years — significantly ahead of schedule despite many timeline complications! “Leadership is a combination of toughness and compassion,” she says.

Labeled as a rising CEO in the Phoenix Business Journal in 2021, Grenee balances strong company growth with empathy for how decisions impact people’s lives … her secret to sustainable longevity.

Grenee’s advice:

  1. Always take that vacation. If you’re burnt out, your mind is telling you that you need a break.
  2. Live in the big picture. Don’t meddle in anyone else’s job. Focus on the leadership tasks needed from you.
  3. Learn to say no. Evaluate your limits. Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you need time to refocus.

Guidepost No. 3: Communication and Alignment

Andy Malpocker Andy Malpocker | Wentzville, Missouri
President & CEO, Purpose Wrecker
Vistage member since 2020

After Andy Malpocker helped grow his parent’s company by 600% in 10 years, sales suddenly dropped 50% month over month due to COVID. By May 4, 2020, sales were inching up. So was morale.

That night, the second-generation owner got a call: explosions in the main building. “Panic mode sets in. And I remember just saying, ‘Everything is fine. We can still run the business,’” he says.

The fire was out by midnight. By 8 a.m., the whole team was back to work in makeshift trailers, borrowed RVs and tents. Through grit and grace, Andy rose from the ashes to record sales, retaining most of his team and completing the buyout of his parents’ company so that they could enjoy retirement.

He says, “I watched my father survive several downturns over many decades. To get my first one under my belt without him builds a lot of confidence, for sure.”

Andy’s advice for leaders:

  1. Take care of your people.
  2. There is good risk, and there is bad risk. Minimize the bad risk.
  3. Delegate.

Guidepost No. 4: Organization Values and Culture

Thiru ThanagarathinamThiru Thangarathinam | Chandler, Arizona
Founder & CEO, MST Solutions
Vistage member since 2016 Leadership Award

Ten years ago, Thiru Thangarathinam founded MST Solutions and steadily grew it into one of the world’s largest providers of Salesforce integration software.

COVID-19 presented significant challenges, but Thiru rallied his team around three core values — spirit of humility, pride in ownership and culture of service.

“The future was unclear in 2020, but we made every decision with those core values in mind,” he says.

Thiru sold his business earlier this year for $115 million, but shares that, “It’s not the money I’m proud of. It’s the value we’ve created for our customers, colleagues and community.”

Thiru’s tips after his successful summit:

  1. Leadership is a journey that never ends. With every new experience, you improve your skills.
  2. The only constant is change. Foster an adaptable mindset and face new challenges with confidence.
  3. Empathy is an essential leadership skill.
  4. Be curious. Ask questions before you make a decision. Take a step back and really listen.

Guidepost No. 5: Innovation

Allen RodriguezAllen Rodriguez | Pasadena, California
Founder & CEO, ONE400
Vistage member since 2018

One of few Latinos in LegalTech, Allen Rodriguez founded ONE400 in 2013 to address inequitable access to justice, a problem facing 80 million Americans.

By helping law firms innovate, he provides the financial stability to increase their reach into underserved communities. Allen is proud to offer opportunities to young professionals who dream of saving the world.

“In most private practices, there’s not much focus on improving the industry,” he shares. ONE400 also supplies continuing education to train lawyers in the business of law and effective practice management.

What Allen learned on his climb:

  1. Focus less on doing and more on inspiring. Allow people the freedom to make mistakes.
  2. Be mission-driven in your recruiting efforts. That way, you’ll work with people who are aligned on core values.
  3. Find a support group as soon as you can. You need qualified peers to give you feedback.
  4. Expand your network. You never know what advice you might get!


Related Resources

The CEO’s Blueprint for world-class leadership

The CEO’s 7 Laws of Leadership

Category: Leadership

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About the Author: Mary Ellen Sheehy

Mary Ellen Sheehy is Senior Vice President, Member Programs and Alliances of Vistage.

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