Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with
Reydel "Sonny" Santos
helps you in your leadership.
Reydel "Sonny" Santos
Name: Reydel "Sonny" Santos
Title: President & CEO
Organisation: Veteran Housing Corp
LinkedIn profile https://www.linkedin.com/in/reydelsantos/
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Time management is my greatest challenge. Balancing my personal needs with those of the organization oftentimes requires hard choices. Time is the most valuable commodity every human being possesses, yet we often take it for granted and fail to manage our time wisely.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I am a leader by default as Founder and President of Veteran Housing Corp. I am more of a doer than a delegator, something every leader has to do. When I was Affordable Housing Director at Miami Rescue Mission, I became aware of the large numbers of veterans in the homeless shelters being operated by Miami Rescue Mission.
Being a veteran myself, I found it difficult to understand why so many veterans ere ending up in homeless shelters, so I determined to start up a nonprofit to address the housing needs of veterans, one veteran at a time. Fourteen years later, I find myself at the helm of the organization doing what I set out to accomplish.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My day begins around 4 am, sometimes earlier. I get much of my reading, administrative, and other paperwork done prior to 9 am. When the workday begins I typically field calls from veterans in need of housing or am responding to inquiries from individuals and families needing housing. I spend much of my time thinking outside the box and putting together coalitions of different individuals and organizations (for profit and nonprofit) to find ways to create additional housing units in the most economical and efficient way possible. My days vary and it's difficult to have a rigid schedule each day as we have to be flexible enough to address the urgent issues we may have to deal with.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
Good leadership cannot exist without humility, a servant attitude, and compassion for others. I have to remind myself each day what it was that motivated me to give of my time, talent and treasure to serve veterans who are less fortunate than me. We came to this world with nothing and we can't take anything with us, so I am compelled share my good fortune with others and do a little good along my life's journey.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Of the thousands of books, articles, and studies where one can learn about leadership, one is most often overlooked, the Bible. The Bible provides so many examples of leadership, good and bad, as well as providing very concrete examples of what servant leadership is and why it is so impactful. Leadership requires empathy, and we have no better example of an individual who truly understood the needs of his followers than Jesus Christ. The scene of Jesus washing his disciples feet is a great example of leadership on that it demonstrates that no one is beneath even the lowliest of tasks that need to get done! As a leader, I am compelled to demonstrate that I am willing to do what it takes to get the task done, even if it means "getting my hands dirty" so to speak.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Be patient, compassionate, understanding, and fair with everyone, and do not think too highly of yourself! Everyone in an organization is to be valued, no matter what they do for the organization.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
There are many meaningful stories that come to mind. Each one is unique, but quite similar in many ways. An individual or family find themselves in need and homeless and when we are able we provide them with a place they can call home, whether for a short while or on a more permanent basis.
The meaningful part of this story that is repeated often in my line of work, is the humility and gratitude of those we serve, especially when we have been able to provide a place they can call "home" for the very first time in a very long time. When veterans express their gratefulness for providing them with a clean, safe, and truly affordable place they can call "home", there is nothing more meaningful than that.