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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Another quality is active and open listening. I developed tremendous admiration for bosses who didn’t need “yes” men around them. They wanted diverse opinions and looked for different solutions and new ways of doing things. I found those people inspiring because they fostered people who were open and would disagree with them.

At one point in my career I worked for the president of the company and felt I needed to report back to him on how the company was operating. This involved looking out for early warning of problems, of unethical conduct, of people cooking the books, and other emerging problems in the business. For me that was a great learning experience of dealing with high pressure. I needed courage and strength to give the president the correct information so he could make the right decisions. This was very valuable to me and I continue to admire those qualities. That’s why I put courage way up there.

The last leadership quality I most admire is compassion, mixed with not putting-up with any bull. I call it the hard love model, where I don’t enable anyone if they are misrepresenting the facts. I simply won’t stand for that behavior. One of the last jobs I had at Pac Bell was heading-up the Office of Business Ethics, and I reported to the president. This was the first ethics position ever established in the company and one of the few in the United States. That job was an incredible pressure cooker. I headed the office of whistle blower and had a few people who investigated cases of misconduct to determine if there was wrongdoing in the corporation. I called that my last best job and feel the same today as I reflect back on it.

13. What, if any, spiritual traditions or practices do you most draws upon in exercising leadership?

I am involved in my church and draw strength from my faith beliefs. Linking back to my comments on courage, I try to model the behavior I want my children to emulate. I call it “Walking the talk.” So spiritually speaking I only have to look in the mirror, look to my god and ask, “Man, are you doing the right thing?” And then reflect on it. This enables me to help people make tough decisions and be a relatively good model most of the time. And when I’m not a good model, to acknowledge it. For me the qualities are honesty with self, honesty with others, and not wearing a false front or covering up when I have blown it. I don’t know if those values are spiritual, but they provide me a sound foundation.

14. How has your leadership style changed as you have progressed in life?

I have developed a much more collaborative style of leadership and I am able to tolerate diverse opinions. I can be completely comfortable allowing different points of view to be expressed and debated. In my corporate leadership role I would push for rapid decisions and was much more impatient.

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