Name: Mark Wallace Maguire
Title: Director of Communications
Organisation: Central Presbyterian Church, Atlanta
Mark Wallace Maguire is an author and creative communications professional who lives in metro Atlanta. He is the Kindle best-selling author of 8 books of fiction and nonfiction, including the highly-praised Alexandria Rising Chronicles Trilogy which is also on Audible. He is an Independent Author of the Year Finalist and a Georgia Author of The Year nominee. Maguire has produced short documentaries and served as production director of multiple live-streamed concerts and events. He spent almost 20 years in metro Atlanta's media scene where he was honored with more than 20 awards by his peers for his work in journalism. He segued out of media into digital communications in 2017 and currently works in nonprofit communications in downtown Atlanta. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the global nonprofit Children’s Literature for Children
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Mark's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The hardest challenges as a leader are motivating people. That is not meant as a blanket statement in that people are hard to motivate. Rather, the challenge is to discover what motivates them and then to build a collaborative goal that includes each individual's motivations and how they can positively contribute to the team reaching the goal. Creating a vision, project management and distributing deadlines and very important. However, if you can find what makes people tick - personal achievement, praise, work/life balance, etc. - then you can truly grow something unique.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I was a late bloomer in my journalism career, but still segued into leadership in my late 20s as the editor of a weekly newspaper. I had grown weary of the grind of working as a daily reporter and when I was considering leaving the news business, I was very fortunate to have two leaders who saw potential in me that I did not. I've been grateful to them ever since.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
In creative communications, each day one, 'rides a different horse.' For the most part, the primary anchors in my day are starting the morning off with a devotion and a brief essay to set my day up, followed by prayer on my drive into work. Also, on my commute, I like to listen to podcasts and generally try to find one that is humor-filled to set my mind right. When it is not too hot, I make a point to walk at lunch. It gets me away from the desk, releases stress and I love the endorphin boost. Before sleep, I generally read an hour or so to help my mind wind down.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
As a Gen X-er, I grew up with the majority of my leaders either Boomers or Gen X-ers on the 'elderly' part of the spectrum. Then, it was rather a cut and dry environment. The unspoken word was not to share your trials outside of work, your personal life and to leave your outside interests at the door. The last four of so years, I've seen while having boundaries is necessary to a degree, you can also learn a lot about people, how they like to be communicated with, their hopes and dreams, and such, but lowering those walls. That has been a great lesson which I have learned peripherally through others and directly through a recent supervisor of mine who - ironically to cultural beliefs - is a Boomer!
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?
I like a lot of the 'One Minute Manager' and 'Who moved my Cheese' books. They were very helpful to me when I first began management. While I had some innate tools of leadership and strong systems, reading those books gave me a more in-depth outline and philosophy to integrate my ideas into. I also continue to find inspiration in many biographies and military history, especially with great leaders. It is not the strategies or the war itself, but how leaders carried themselves in the face of such odds of death on a daily basis. "The Splendid and the Vile," by Erik Larson is a super example of this I read last year.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
I would also remind them a little sense of humor goes a long way and as important as our work is, it is never as important as we make it in our own minds, so give yourself some grace and others as well.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
When I was transitioning from print media to my current career in digital communications and creative writing, I had a hard time re-calibrating myself to the world, finding new clients and establishing new relationships. I was shocked by former employees and colleagues who went above and beyond to help me out. You never know how far your influence can go. I am still grateful to those people and they have a special place in my life.