Chateaux’s Mark Montanaro has recently completed Cornell University’s Executive Leadership Certificate. The certificate aims to ensure leaders have the right blend of soft skills and strategic mindset to achieve specific performance outcomes for their organization. Here Mark shares some of his thoughts and experience in completing this certificate….

 What is your official title at Chateaux and what are your responsibilities?

My title is SVP, Resource Services. I joined Chateaux back in 2004 and since then have had the opportunity to help grow the business through aligning technical activities with business objectives and expectations. I am responsible for developing, maintaining and growing our business.

Why would someone with your experience decide to do a Leadership course?

I decided to pursue the certificate because we (Chateaux) have been experiencing significant growth over the last few years. I wanted to ensure that as we scale our service offerings portfolio, our resource teams and corporate culture are all evolving harmoniously together. We are now the largest we’ve ever been, so it’s important to be tuned into the latest leadership tools, trends, and strategies.

What is the certification and what did it entail?

Cornell University’s Executive Leadership Certificate Program is comprised of a series of intense courses that must be completed within a 4-month timeframe. I really appreciated the focus and discipline it required to get through it. It was my first certification course in several years. Getting back into the classroom required carving out my nights and weekends to consume the information-packed content for each course.

What do you feel were the key takeaways from the course?

Overall, the course gave me the opportunity to pause and take a step back from my daily responsibilities and conduct some introspection. It allowed me to not only examine myself but also my organization.

A few key takeaways include some great techniques to better track and manage my commitments both on a business level as well as personal. I was also able to streamline some of the back-office communications.

What do you think best motivates a team?

For me, in order to get to the things that motivate a team or individual you first have to look at the root-cause analysis as to why someone may need motivation in the first place. Everyone is motivated in their own way. Some people are naturally motivated to do a thing and others may require some level of stimulus to get there. Once you have a sense for the root cause then you can address the motivation needed.

Inspiration can be a great way to get people motivated. For example, working with new and exciting emerging technologies can be inspiring to a person that has an affinity to working with technology. We (Chateaux) have become leaders in several emerging technologies including enterprise blockchain, IoT, ML, and other areas. In turn, I think that this has been very motivating for many of our team members to participate in these projects.

Were there any key lessons learned in this course that you’ve been able to apply during the current pandemic?

As we go through these unprecedented times, I think that credibility and accountably are important.  During the leadership program there was a lot of discussion around maximizing your credibility as a leader. Essentially treating every promise as an absolute commitment. And the second part to that is “if” there’s ever a commitment that cannot be kept, it must be treated as a serious situation and be managed carefully.

Is there any particular leader or leadership style you particularly aspire to?

I’d consider myself a little more of the “calm in the chaos” type of leader. Reserved and calculated is usually my approach to leadership.  Active listening is probably one of my stronger suits.

Do you think it’s important for members of your team to continue to develop their soft skills as well as their technical/business ones through learning and courses?

Absolutely! We encourage every member of our team to continuously improve their technical skills along with their soft skills. Each member of our team is an important piece to our puzzle. Many of our resources have been with us for many years and it’s great to see their development over time.