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What does mastering the soft stuff mean to your leadership?

Monte Nuckols posed with me in 2018, when his global leadership won a nomination for a BOLD Award here in Minneapolis. Monte is the speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast, next Friday, April 12.

Our coaches delight in working with technical leaders who learn to master the soft stuff. What’s a technical leader? Lawyers, accountants, technologists – anyone who is highly-trained in the scientific method whose natural orientation is to identify problems. What does it mean to master the soft stuff?

Working with a global company provides a rich variety of travel and experiences. Here Monte and his teammates plant a tree in India.

There are multiple ways to answer that question – the simplest way is to learn more about the next speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast Series next Friday, April 12. Monte Nuckols is a global IT executive whose natural gifts are “technical.” And through a series of dramatic work and life experiences he’s becoming a master of how to unite a team, motivate a variety of personalities, create caring relationships across the globe, and build positive momentum for enormous projects –  without burning people out. That’s the soft stuff.

Monte’s employer, Adient, is the global leader in automotive seating. Which means it’s very likely the car you ride to and from work is equipped with a seat that includes technology that Monte knows. What’s special about Monte’s job is the global manufacturing footprint. Adient has people living and working in more than 50 countries around the globe.

Here’s a sample from my interview with Monte that may pique your interest in meeting him at the breakfast:

When did you know you were gifted in the IT field – how early? I took a Fortran class in college and aced it… so I took the next class and aced that as well. I ended up taking all my electives in Computer Science and Math. I enjoyed programming so much, that I made IT my career choice upon completing my undergraduate degree.

Monte’s IT experience helps him give his 85 year-old father computer lessons.

What were the most important pivot points – the moments that changed your trajectory – that got you to where you are today? Taking a risk to leave my first job for a role in a new company that was a little over my head at the time – that really launched my career. The second is a large Enterprise Resource Planning project that really failed.  We learn the most through our failures. After we fixed the system, it was recognized as being a significant contributor to keeping that company out of bankruptcy.

A collegiate golfer, Monte still plays the game better than 95% of golfers. In this picture he shared a round with Pro Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson (left).

What’s the most satisfying part of your role at work? That’s a tough one, because most segments of the automotive industry are struggling on a global scale today. But actually, a true test of a leader is managing in bad times…finding the goodness, and helping to turn around poor performance. That’s my job everyday.

What’s most satisfying about your life outside of work?  Watching my young adult children and spouses find their way in life/careers. And living in ways that make sure my Seven Fs Wheel is round and rolling freely. After my heart attack, part of mastering the soft stuff for me was to think about my whole life differently. I reconsidered all of my relationships, inside and outside of work. I worked on my faith, my fitness, and my family scores in totally different ways. Today, I’m living proof that embracing all of my Seven Fs was necessary for me to live the good life that I imagined – and that my family deserved.

Monte is pictured here with his daughter-in-law Sophia, after his first post-heart attack 5K run.

About a dozen tickets remain for you to meet Monte – you can get your tickets here. If you can make it, we’ll dive deeper into the How Goodness Pays research, and discuss ways you can learn to master the soft stuff.

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