Name: Matt Giordano
Title: Business Operations Manager
Organisation: Allen Flavors
Operations leader with over 20 years experience in Food Manufacturing.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Matt's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Delegating important responsibilities or tasks and trusting your team to execute.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I tend to be introverted and avoid the spotlight, so I never wanted to be a leader. Growing up and in school, I would always let others lead and pay attention to what made them effective or ineffective. There were several school projects where we had to create or present in teams and I would never volunteer to lead the group.
Throughout the process I would stay quiet and just chime in when needed or to correct something I knew was wrong. Inevitably, by the time the project had concluded, the entire group would have come to see me as the leader and I would just try to make sure everyone got credit for what we accomplished. In my career, I made sure to always do my job as best as I could, no matter what it was.
I never put less than 100% into anything that would have my name on it. As I volunteered to take on more responsibilities, always being curious, questioning why things were done, I wound up moving up the company structure into leadership roles.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
These days, with two children under two years old, I don't get to choose when I go to sleep or wake up. But I try to structure my time at work to maximize my efficiency. I usually do that with a Pomodoro Timer or with Time Boxing. Years ago I could get away with some To-do Lists on Post-it notes, but in my current role, there are just too many projects and tasks to address. I like structure and routine and I find that building the right habits contributes to success.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
I was recently reminded that putting off conflict in order to resolve an issue is just a short term fix. Some people try to avoid conflict because they don't want to feel uncomfortable or don't want to have difficult conversations. By pushing this off, it only makes the situation worse in the long run. It is important to be open and honest with co-workers and team members and to always take responsibility.
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?
Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. The book is written by two former US Navy Seals and details how principles used by leaders in battle can be applied to high performing teams. This book helped me understand that leaders, despite the environment, need to clearly define responsibilities, set limits and above all, must lead by example.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Listen more than you speak. A good leader will gather as much information and try to have all the facts before making decisions. Make others earn your opinions and insight.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I remember when I first became a Group Leader and started running my own Production area and team. It was clear from day one that my attitude and my professionalism would directly affect the team and our performance. If I was respectful and genuine, I would receive this back from my team. If I came in late or started being disorganized and making mistakes, our work and the team's attitude would suffer. I learned quickly that getting the basics done properly and building the right habits were very important and that our output would reflect this.