An Interview with Mike Middlemas

A World of Difference


Mike-300x300Mike Middlemas has so far had a full career with experience in the Esurance startup, IT Global, leading a number of distributed teams, and other positions.  Originally he met Tony in the 1990′s while helping with a project related to Y2K, sit back and learn what insights that Mike provides about his views on leadership.

Mike has had quite a bit of experience in distributed teams.  These are teams where everyone might be working in a different location using online conferences, email, and other types of technology to stay in touch to get projects done.  In these rather difficult environments, Mike has pulled together a number of virtual team building activities, tips and insights for getting things done.

One area that is satisfying to Mike is taking these virtual teams, even ones that originally did not gel well together, and helping them succeed.  He identifies a few areas that are extremely important.  The team must have a common vision that everyone understands.  The team has to have clear roles given to each person that matches their skills.  The leader has to push people appropriately so that the collective team is better than individual abilities.  Having done in a number of times in a distributed environment is something Mike has been very successful with.

He takes a rather straightforward view of leadership.  A leader knows what the goals are to accomplish.  The vision will help people go from the starting point to the end point.  Initially everyone will be given a role on how to participate and this role is going to change as team members realize where they might work best.  Helping everyone communication in the workplace clearly will be what is essential for teams finding success and meeting original goals.

Mike also shares some struggles about getting teams to see the practical sides of developing tests for a new computer language and the necessity of being face to face versus using technology.  For those working with distributed teams or leading teams, these are the types of lessons that have to be learned.

Learn from another expert on virtual teams, Daniel Brown.

An Interview with Mark Stone

Identifying Leaders


Mark stoneMark Stone has a diverse career starting with a degree in accounting, a Masters in Divinity, and a focus in technology and finance.  With such a unique skill set, his views on leadership are something that must be listened to providing you with new ways of looking at this topic.  Today being the chief information officer of the Texas A&M university system, Mark definitely understands how to lead and how to manage.

As of yet, Mark doesn’t feel he has yet met his most satisfying achievement in his career.  His constant focus forwards makes it hard to look in the “rear view mirror” and evaluate aspects of his career.  This looking forward provides motivation and focus for him to continue on to bigger and more challenging things.

He did struggle at one point in his career.  While in the technology industry, he tried tirelessly to become a CIO and was overlooked three times.  This caused him to make a difficult choice leaving the field of technology and going into distribution, finance, and merchandising to acquire additional skills.  His “tour of duty” helped him to get the skills that he really needed to flourish as a CIO.  This was a deliberate choice to move on to something else which was Mark’s way of finding a different path around a roadblock he faced.

A common trait that Mark noticed in many of the leadership positions was coming into a role that something could quite often be broken or dysfunctional and his challenge was to fix it.  Having the proper skills especially in this area has helped him to assume responsibility for these types of poorly operated areas and help fix the issues.

In terms of mentorship, Mark finds that it is useful to read about great leaders in history.  He talked about people like Lincoln.  It is a good idea to read everything these types of leaders wrote and what was written about them.  Personally, Mark has mentored and added his own experience in leadership training to a number of people as his way of paying it forward.  This led to meeting with up to around 7 people each week that eventually turned into the book “The Three C’s of Strategic Consideration.”

Mark also has a values focused approach to identifying leaders.  He sees humility, accountability, integrity, stewardship, and excellence as the five characteristics that he would look for.  Personal character is extremely important in terms of leaders.

Listen to more brilliant advice on identifying leaders in your company with Vijay Vijayasankar.

An Interview with Daniel Brown

In this interview you have the pleasure of getting to know Daniel Brown who has worked in a variety of marketing, sales, operation management, and other leadership positions within a number of small and large consulting firms.  There are a number of insights that can be learned from Dan’s experiences.

One of Dan’s proudest moments in business that gave him the most pleasure was taking over as a director of sales for a company in the UK that was doing poorly and losing money. Within six weeks, he had the ability to turn it around and make it stop losing money using focused communication with the company leadership.

This is contrasted with his most difficult struggle in taking a role at a company that was unable to deliver to its primary customers. The leadership of the business was across the ocean without the ability to listen to the issues that Dan was facing. Being placed in this type of position with virtual teams can be extremely difficult to anyone.

There is analysis about why these situations were so different and what can be done about it when facing these types of problems. Dan talks about the valuable leadership lesson of having the ability to sit down face to face with company leadership and selling them on the problems you are facing. This is one of the key differences between these two scenarios.



In terms of defining success as a leader and sharing leadership training, Dan feels that a few areas can be used to measure failure or success. This requires looking at the financial figures, strategic understanding of what is important or critical versus what is not important, and the ability to understand where to place your efforts. Plus the true goals of the leadership as opposed to just the published ones. A deep understanding of the drivers of the core leadership, is an enabling insight allowing any aspiring leader to achieve their full potential.

Learn more about handling virtual teams from our interview with Darlene Lee on another episode of Impact Teams Radio.

An Interview with Steven Weiner

200x200-steven-weiner-200x200When it comes to leadership development and skills, Steven Weiner, currently working with Menlo University, definitely has a unique understanding of this concept from many years of professional service both in the non-profit and for profit sectors.  In this interview, a number of these valuable lessons are discussed to help you learn a bit more about the struggles, the attributes, and successes of being a leader.

Steven Weiner started down the path of leadership development at the University of Chicago before transitioning to SAIC, a multi billion dollar company.  He provides a number of unique tips about the struggles of going from a non-profit environment to a completely different one with different motivations.  These lessons such as learning to sell yourself and that leadership skills are transferable provide some useful insights on this subject.

There are valuable lessons that can be learned from Steven.  While different industries may require different skill sets, the attributes of leadership tend to remain the same.  He discusses and teaches how to build up others to the point where they can take care of tasks while still keeping quality communication.  He learned over the years that different types of people require different styles of management regardless of the setting.

Steven wraps up his final thoughts about passion being part of his personal formula for success.  Having passion in what you are doing and the organization you are with can provide the motivation needed in order to do the type of work that you really want to be doing.

Due to the diverse settings that Steven Weiner has come from, these are great lessons that anyone developing their skills should listen to.

Listen to more inspiring interviews regarding communication in the workplace from Sandy Higgins.