What drives successful leadership? Q&A with CEO Richard Pattinson

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As Brafton’s chief executive officer, Richard Pattinson understands the impact strong leadership has on company success. While executive initiatives for 2014 include fostering collaboration among departments and revitalizing industry trainings, […]

As Brafton’s chief executive officer, Richard Pattinson understands the impact strong leadership has on company success. While executive initiatives for 2014 include fostering collaboration among departments and revitalizing industry trainings, strengthened communication at all levels is critical to maintaining high performance across the board.

Here’s insight into Richard’s definitions of professional growth and successful leadership, plus a peek into his journey as a content connoisseur (which started at youth when he “couldn’t stop reading.”):

Q: What would you define as quintessential qualities for professional success?
  • A degree of humility – Being humble about where you are in life and in business is an important place to start, and an important place to go back to.
  • A vision – A clear sense as to where we’re going with a very hardheaded, clear-eyed appreciation of the difficulties and challenges you have. When you have a vision it makes you feel confident that you can move with conviction, but in order then to get there you need resilience, determination and frankly a bit of grit.
  • An open and receptive mind. Just because you see things going in a particular direction, as you take on feedback and learn lessons, you realize that there are other options and different ways of doing things, and they all deserve an audience. It doesn’t mean you’ll go with them, it just means that you should consider them. It’s about getting the balance right between listening and leading.
Q:  What do you value most about Brafton employees?

I admire and value work ethic, creativity, loyalty and commitment to the cause – it’s old fashioned but it’s important. I value tenacity; people who are thrown a challenge and dig deep and work through that challenge and learn from it. I admire those who ask good questions and are unafraid. In any organization you have to have someone who tells the emperor that the emperor’s wearing no clothes.

Q: What qualities do you look for in a strong leader?

The best managers are not always the people who would have flagged themselves as natural managers in the beginning. You don’t have to be an alpha to be the most effective. The trick with being a good manager is being yourself and learning to project yourself in a way that’s consistent and clear. Remember that while you’re responsible for their performance, you’re there to serve and support the team. By being humble in that way, you begin to build up your own leadership credentials, while learning to lead the team in the way which the team wants to be led.

Q: What’s the best advice you would give a manager?

A manager is only as good as the team he or she runs. Actually enjoy watching your staff grow. It’s a massive privilege – you’re responsible for people’s everyday functions but more broadly for their professional development. A good manager is someone who understands the team, lays down the law when they need to, and can see what the right thing to do is. That’s tough and that’s about learning to be skillful; sometimes that comes with experience.

Q: What trait are you constantly trying to improve?

Communication, definitely. However well you think you’re communicating as a leader of an organization, you’re never communicating sufficiently enough. You can always communicate more and more effectively. I remind myself all the time that you can come up with the best programs, have the most brilliant ideas between four walls, but if that thing doesn’t get communicated and embraced and understood, it may as well be the tree that fell in the forest that no one heard.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect of your job?

The privilege to lead.

Q: What websites do you most enjoy reading or visiting?

Anything news based, anything culture based. I’m interested in politics and history, so I’m very eclectic in where I get my things online. I divide my time between apps and websites and printed periodicals…I’m the most voracious consumer of content that you’ll find in the business, and I’ve been like that all my life. As a child I just couldn’t stop reading.

Q: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Either a journalist or a forensic scientist – I narrowed it down quite early.

Q: When and where are you most happy?

Appreciation and appreciating simple things is something that’s easily overlooked in life – not just in today’s fast paced life – I think it’s always been the case. I take every day as it comes, and I’m very blessed for the things in my life that are fortunate, both on a professional and personal level. I don’t expect happiness – I look for happiness in small moments. And then I think I know it when I see it and feel it.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Not yet knowing what my greatest achievement is.

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Molly Buccini is Brafton's marketing communications coordinator. She joined the team with a background in digital journalism and community engagement. Likes: All things Boston, beaches and black labradors (especially her own).
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