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Greenville Business Magazine

Think Up Consulting - Leadership Winner, Small Business Category

By Leigh Savage

In addition to taking the top spot as overall Top Workplaces winner for small business, Think Up Consulting, which offers strategic consulting, change management and brand strategy, won a special leadership award. In their survey responses, employees pointed out the skills of CEO, founder and Creator of Wow Ron Doney for his creativity, dedication, consideration and transparency. We asked Doney about how he builds and maintains a close-knit team that feels supported, challenged and motivated.

What do you think is the most important aspect of being an effective leader?

The number one piece is really staying connected. You really need to make sure you know what's going on and what’s important. For me, it’s really walking the talk. It’s one thing to think about things, or say you’ll do it, and another to live by that. The other thing is really helping people believe they can do anything.

What is one of the biggest challenges you face as a leader?

One challenge is believing mistakes are unacceptable. I think some of the greatest growth in leadership is failure, and what you do with that, how you build upon it.

Have you had a leadership mentor?

There have been a number of individuals over my lifetime. There are multiple people with traits I admire, and I try to pick out people I admire to try to build my leadership style. No one leader is perfect, but I look at different components.

How have you adjusted your leadership style over the years?

As we’ve grown, I’ve had to continually shift. For me, growing from a couple of people to now, you have to let go more. I’m still keeping a pulse on what’s going on, but that’s the biggest thing - finding ways to let go of things and let people soar.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your leadership?

The goal is to survive. It’s survival mode. I think for me, the goal of all of this is what we learn from what’s going on, and coming out stronger than ever before. It’s about new, innovative ways of doing things - did we take the time to make ourselves smarter, faster, nimbler? The other piece is to keep the culture thriving throughout this, and not letting people lose sight of the fact that this is temporary.

Your employees frequently cited feeling appreciated, challenged and supported. How do you create that feeling?

Part of it is building a culture that is supportive of each other, that behaves in a supportive fashion. We start instilling that when a new person starts, instilling our values and beliefs in them, making sure they know who we are and what we represent. Then it's about continuing to feed those values along the way. I think that really creates believers.

How do you stay connected?

A big part of that is really listening to what’s going on and what’s important. It’s really around walking the talk. I’ve always tried to surround myself with great people who believe in my dreams and are able to help bring them to life better than I could have imagined. That’s always been the secret sauce for me.