#VCNews | Leader With a Heart

Posted on April 16, 2020
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By Mimi San Pedro
Chief Strategy Officer
The Venture Center

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I have been blessed working under great leaders throughout my career and have also suffered through some awful ones. After more than 30 years in high profile and super challenging industries, working with hundreds of CEO, I can quickly pinpoint a great leader with just a 30-minute conversation.

Great leaders ask you personal questions to get to know you as an individual and not as a future worker. They listen with enthusiasm and genuine intrigue when you share and seek authentic ways to connect.

I joined The Venture Center a year and a half ago because I felt that feeling about the then-new Executive Director, Wayne Miller. The team we assembled to serve our community and fulfill The Venture Center mission, equally share my admiration of what an exceptional leader Wayne Miller has turned out to be.

Wayne approaches his role as leader of The Venture Center as a visionary, yes, but also as the ultimate coach and mentor. He often refers to our organization as a body and views his efforts to keep the body healthy and well as critical components to our success.

Exceptional leaders are the ones who stand up for their people and support them when they experience their most challenging moments. They also encourage and push their people to take on more significant challenges. Exceptional leaders treat you as you deserve to be treated: with dignity and respect. They don’t strike you down with belittling comments, and never intentionally try to place you in an embarrassing or demeaning position in front of others, whether colleagues or clients. They show a genuine interest in and concern for others. They ask you, “How are you?” or “How’s your family?” And then they listen and express genuine interest. Exceptional leaders always find time to show their appreciation for the work their team is doing and have this unique ability to inspire and motivate people to believe in something beyond their limiting thinking.

And in this trying and difficult time, when our team is separated physically, we continue to be connected, focused, and highly productive because of his forward-thinking approach to the new workflow. Every morning, our team has a touch base Zoom meeting. Most of the time, the calls start with inquiries of how we’re all fairing and seeks to find out if there’s anything he can do to be supportive. Talking with our kids and saying hello to our doggies are always part of these meetings, too.

I can count three benevolent leaders in my career, and one of them is our Executive Director. Wayne is a leader who cares about keeping the body healthy and well, but a healthy body requires a strong heart. And Wayne is the strongest heart that our body could have.