Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Senior Sage Leadership: Interview with Norman Westmore

Senior Sage Leadership: Interview with Norman Westmore

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Second, do you feel that you are sacrificing anything in your life by being deeply involved in our community’s civic organizations?

The short answer is no. If I were sacrificing anything that was really important to me, I wouldn’t do it. I keep a pretty careful boundary about what I will and will not do. I’m clear about that.

I got involved with the Center for Nonprofit leadership because I felt I had something to offer. At first I didn’t want to get involved in the administrative stuff and in board governance, but I was invited repeatedly to be a board leader and that is what I felt the organization needed. I saw some other boards that were completely dysfunctional and I felt I could make a difference with them as well, so that’s what motivated me to join them.

Third, what personal benefits do you get from your civic involvements?

Take Habit for Humanity as an example. I work with a group of friends I have made within a Habitat construction crew. We go out and hammer nails and get a lot done while also having a good time. Best of all, we are helping families to have a nice home. What can beat that?

11. One of the benefits of growing older is that we are increasingly able to reflect on our experiences and to learn from them. Have you found any patterns of personal behavior no longer useful in your leadership role? Is so, what are these and how have you changed?

One pattern always comes to the forefront, and that has had to do with the way I deal with anger. I had a short fuse in business. Interesting enough, a short fuse and intimidation worked when you were in negotiations, whether it was with union leaders or when you were in confrontation with colleagues. I learned in that world that being tough led to success. Well it doesn’t work well in most other relationships, so the biggest thing I have learned over time is the need for patience. I have learned a lot about being patient with youth and younger people, and coaching them rather than beating on them all the time. I find I still have to work at having patience and restraining expressions of anger.

12. What leadership qualities do you most admire in effective leaders that you have known? Which of these qualities do you believe best describe your leadership?

The qualities I most admire in some of the mentors and coaches I saw in the business world were men and women of high integrity and moral standards who could make courageous decisions, even when they may be costly. They saw and believed in what needed to be done, and they took the high road to accomplish it. Observing those people and their courage in the face of risk to their own careers, but nevertheless doing the right thing, were the qualities that I most admired.

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