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The 'Why' of Leadership

Image of Eric Easter
Hi. I'm Eric Easter. I am CEO of Kittle's Furniture. I've been in our industry for over 30 years. During that time I’ve held positions ranging from cashier to CEO. Along the way, I've held executive leadership positions both in manufacturing and retailing. I've also been responsible for leading initiatives in merchandising, marketing, sales, and operations for leading companies like Kittle's, Thomasville, Boyles and Huntington Furniture. Leadership has always been a passion of mine and nothing delights me more than seeing good people become great leaders. This blog, while discussing a myriad of topics, will focus on leadership. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Research indicates that leaders with a strong need to achieve (as opposed to a strong need for power) get the best results. They are more humble, more willing to accept criticism, admit mistakes, share credit and are more understanding. Achievers are very competitive, but it is more about doing their best and becoming better rather than simply winning. Achievers love good competition—it makes them better. Winning is great, but it must be done honorably and by the rules. Achievers by nature are goal driven. They hold themselves to high standards of accountability. As a result, many achievers are susceptible ... Read More

    This shocked me: According to a recent Gallup survey only 30% of employees are happy in their work, 52% are not engaged and 18% hate their jobs. Yes, 70% of employees are disengaged or actually hate their job. OUCH! Obviously, our success as leaders is inextricably tied to the performance of our fellow associates. Our associates must be passionate, motivated, want to improve and have a strong desire to serve (customers and their fellow associates) if we are to grow market share. Every company wants to maximize its potential. This will not happen if employees are disengaged or hate their ... Read More

    We've all known control freaks. You know them as the folks who have to know everything, be sure everything is and will be perfect, who obsess over even the smallest issues to the detriment of the bigger ones, who must be in charge, who are unable to delegate effectively, who dominate conversations and who worry their life away. You may even be one of them.I certainly have a bit of this within me. It has dissipated over the years, but even today, I still have to guard against it. At some point along my career path I discovered ... Read More
  • The Why of Leadership

    We spend so much time doing. We work hard. We struggle. We sacrifice. We strive. Why?Understanding why we choose to lead will determine how effective we are as a leader. This requires self-awareness, which demands self-honesty. Not an easy thing for most.Most of what we are taught and believe about leadership centers on the "How" and the "What". How we lead. How we do this. How we do that. And, What is required to lead. What the rules of leadership are. What must be sacrificed. What rewards we deserve. What others think of us. What we think of ... Read More

    I have enjoyed to no end sharing my thoughts on Leadership via this blog for the past two and a half years. That said, I have decided to take a break. I would like to thank Ray Allegrezza for giving me the opportunity to write this blog. I so appreciate his confidence in me. If you take only one thing away from my blogs, I would like it to be that people matter most. Finding the right people, treating them with respect, and then helping them maximize their potential provides the firmest foundation from which to build an organization. I ... Read More

    Most of us have had the opportunity to be a new employee on a number of occasions. While every company has its own idiosyncrasies, there are basic attributes and beliefs that most of us look for when interviewing. Once employed, we then validate their existence. These include integrity, respect and recognition. Another important one is whether the company encourages and rewards cross-functional thinking. The answer says a lot about the company and our opportunity within it. I have been the "new guy" on a number of occasions. One thing I have learned to immediately assess is whether the company thinks ... Read More

    Leaders by nature tend to embrace control. With control comes power-the power to influence, decide and directly impact events. It speeds us down the road of achievement when used discriminately. What leader doesn't want this?A paradox of great leadership is that to get control it's often best to give up a good portion of it. At the same time one must also recognize that in actuality we control very little of what happens to us. What we do control is our reaction to the unpredictable and unforeseen. Proper preparation helps and is critical to our success but ... Read More

    Our industry has been buffeted like few others by the merciless, unforgiving economic environment of the past two years. It has been a wake up call for productivity enhancements, cost reductions, creative revenue solutions and character. Some companies have weathered it well; others have not. Lack's and Roomfull Express, having been forced to liquidate, are just two recent examples of the latter. We are living through a time that is not for the faint of heart. Spirits can be easily broken. Maintaining a positive attitude can wear down even the best of us. Yet somehow most we are still ... Read More

    Few things are more frustrating than a disconnected leader. We witness them careen down one insular path after another blind to the signs along the way. Their mind is made up-no matter the facts. The result is inevitable-failure at worst and opportunities not maximized at best. If you don't believe me find some quiet time and an honest moment with Obama.Staying connected to the customer, the team, the public, the competition and, of course, one's family takes effort, honesty and openness. We must be willing to listen with an open mind, remain humble, and clearly communicate our ... Read More

    There is comfort in routine; in doing things that have worked before; in traveling an already worn path. Unfortunately, to thrive in today's hyper-dynamic world we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Repeating past behavior is no guarantee of success. In fact, it often provides an opening for our competition and positions us firmly on a path that exits at mediocrity. I was once counseled to never be a pioneer because pioneers get shot. I never took to this advice and am even less inclined to do so today. To grow we must be willing to be the first ... Read More

    WHICH COMES FIRST— ME OR THE COMPANY?Organizations seem to fall into one of two camps. Those that are run by individuals that are primarily concerned about enriching themselves and those whose focus is more about doing the same for the organization. These are two very different perspectives and create two very different cultures. At some point every one of us must decide whether it is best to put the company first or ourselves first. As a leader this is one of the most important decisions we will ever make. Our upbringing, peer group, personal proclivities and needs, particular situation ... Read More

    Successful companies have relevant, viable strategies that evolve as the world changes. So many companies work hard but to no clear end. These companies die at a pace that is determined only by the amount of cash in their bank account and/or the inherent strength of their brand. To develop a workable strategy the leader must honestly and objectively stand back and assess the organization's abilities and the market realities. Not setting a strategy built upon a viable niche is an irrevocable mistake. We have seen the consequences of this at so many different companies whose names we ... Read More