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The Talent Magnet Leadership Podcast


Episode #175: Extraordinary Leader Series, Part 10 with Richard Davis and Guest Host, Don Frericks

Don Frericks is the host on today’s episode of the Extraordinary Leaders Series on the Talent Magnet Leadership Podcast. Don’s guest is Richard Davis, CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that fulfills the wishes of critically ill children between 2 ½ and 18 years. He has been in the corporate world for over 30 years and has experience in the banking sector. In this exciting conversation, Richard and Don share thoughts and insight on Richard’s career path and the makings of great leaders.

  • A good leader inspires and informs the way an organization runs. He or she thinks about succession and the skills and traits that would be necessary for the future of their organization. [5:00]
  • Richard talks about Make-A-Wish with Don. It is a global organization that grants the wishes of children who are critically ill. Richard explains, using an anecdote about one of the children Make-A-Wish has helped, that the organization provides hope and gives the children something to look forward to. It not only gives them memories to hold on to, but their families and friends as well. [6:50]
  • Richard talks about his childhood and what life was like growing up with his parents. [11:22]
  • Be open to whatever promotion is out there. “I kept taking lateral positions that were available to me,” Richard shares with Don. “I did it because I wanted to learn...If you build a foundation, you can go so high, but if later in life you want to go higher in the building you'll regret you didn't build a larger, wider foundation,” he adds. Set a direction instead of a goal because goals limit what’s possible. Decide what direction you’re going in and be open to all possibilities. [15:59]
  • When you set goals you get there fast, but if you’re open to simply going that direction you’re able to see the various options available. Getting to where you want to go quickly as a leader isn’t the goal, neither is getting there the goal. It’s about going in that direction. [18:10]
  • Being a leader is like being a conductor. Conductors don’t have to play all the instruments, but they know how to get the most beautiful music out of the ones who do. [19:50]
  • Presuming too much about an employee’s aspirations is a big mistake leaders make. Not everyone within an organization wants to move up in position. Some of them are happy with where they are and just wish to be acknowledged for the work that they do. Learn to ask people how they love what they do instead of presuming that they hate where they are. [23:07]
  • Organizations cannot read minds and so it is up to you as an individual to figure out and decide what you want to do next. Find a way to let it be known that you’re eager to do something else one day but don’t be pushy. Don’t try to jump ahead of everyone else. This is all part of managing your own career. [25:50]
  • Leaders decide where to spend their energy. [28:02]
  • Good leaders have intellectual skill and the ability to be thoughtful. They also have EQ, which is the ability to get people within their surroundings to listen. Good leaders are engaged in their environments. [29:24]
  • We learn to know, we learn to teach, and we learn with the intent to act. Learning to act is part of curiosity which leaders should have. “I don't want to be able to tell people I know it ...I actually want to inform the way I live my life because [of it]. That all kind of comes back to... being curious enough to therefore intend to impact the world you're around,” Richard says. [31:19]
  • When you’re given permission, you have the inclination to lead. Many people have leadership traits, they just need to have them be brought out. In that same vein, not everyone can be a leader. [36:07]
  • Richard gives advice on how a person can grow their leadership and accelerate their development as an authentic leader. [36:45]



Don Frericks | LinkedIn 


Richard Davis 

Make-A-Wish Foundation


People can't
ead the same
way they did
30 years ago.

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