by Chris Cloud
The following interview is the first of a series of four interviews with missional business owners on the lessons they’ve learned about leadership.
Martin leads a multinational company with operations in three countries and clients around the world.
1. What is your philosophy of leadership?
Partnering with God to mobilize a group of people towards carrying out a specific part of His Will.
2. What experiences, people, or philosophies have most influenced the way you view and practice leadership?
I remember back to Grade 9 of Junior High student council elections. I felt unequipped to run for school president but a couple key friends promised to partner with me if I did it, so I did, won and the year was a huge success, we were able to bring clear leadership to enact change for the good. That was a turning point where I felt I could step up and lead in different situations when there was a need. The numerous sports teams I played on from age 12-25 absolutely helped shape my view and practice of leadership. I think sports are a fantastic “playing field” to develop leadership, grit, teamwork, etc.
3. How has your view of leadership changed over your years leading a BAM company overseas?
There has been a greater introduction of humility. Mostly due to the cross-cultural aspect. There has also been an increased passion to wait on the LORD and not just do things out of my own desire and strength.
4. If you could rewind the clock to when you first arrived overseas to work in business as mission, what leadership advice would you give yourself?
Read Walking with the poor by Bryant Myers (or the more popular When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert). Don’t do anything until you hear from the LORD and have erased the paternalistic, “white saviour” mentality.
5. What are some of the areas of leadership that could improve among missional business practitioners? Where could we all do better?
Removing the past generation’s approach of paternalism from our leadership and becoming excellent in the business aspects of leadership, not just in the soft skills / intangible / missional side.
6. How do you intentionally develop your leadership talents and skills?
By surrounding myself with smarter people, further into the journey than me. Also by voraciously reading (blogs) and listening (podcasts) to other entrepreneurs to learn best practices, etc.
7. How are you personally involved in mentoring or raising up leaders in your context?
I think my focus is on creating opportunities for people to step up and rise to the challenge. Doing my best to coach and be an advocate along the way. A growing organization is what creates these opportunities to raise up and mentor leaders.
8. What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring leader?
Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Don’t aspire to be a leader for the sake of being a leader. Make sure it is something you are passionate about and that God is calling you to.
9. Who is the most effective leader you have ever known personally, and why?
My mentor, investor and board member is extremely effective as a leader due to the trust he builds. I know that he truly wants the best for me, he wants all that God has for me and my family.
10. What is one book, aside from the Bible, that has most influenced your leadership?
The Soul of the Firm by Bill Pollard the former CEO/Chairman of ServiceMaster.
Interview by Chris Cloud, with thanks to Martin.
Chris Cloud is an entrepreneur who has been living and working with his wife in Nepal over the past 3 years. He is passionate about helping companies and individuals identify their perceived growth ceiling, and break past that ceiling. He is partner at a firm in the U.S., ALIGN. ALIGN helps leadership teams clarify their “true north” and gain traction by aligning every aspect of the organization to that vision. He also co-founded a startup called “Vocationality” which helps people identify their unique gifts, and find their vocational calling. He holds a degree in business administration, but counts his 12+ years of starting or serving in a series of fast-growing startups as his real entrepreneurial education!
Chris and his wife founded a non-profit business in Nepal, unleashing leadership in youth and young adults through fitness and adventure clubs. On a good day, you’ll find Chris running up a mountain or snowboarding down one.