CEO Build

It was an honor to speak at the Habitat for Humanity CEO Build, where we celebrated ten years of Greenville County leaders coming together to support families seeking strength and stability through homeownership.  Leaders from every sector were present: higher education, non-profits, community organizations, foundations, and big businesses. It was an amazing collection of leaders. So what did I talk about in front of this group of CEOs? Leadership, of course. Here, in part, is what I said: You can read books on leadership, do webinars, take classes…even get a doctorate in leadership. But none of that makes someone a good leader. You see good leaders through their actions. And we saw a lot of good leaders this week—people committed to improving our community. I talked about what I think are some of the most important traits of good leaders: 1) They have vision. They see what is and see how it could be better; 2) they are willing to take [calculated] risks, to go out on a limb, try something different or scary or a little crazy; 3) they know that to make the vision a reality they need to rally the troops, to put together a team of the right people to make it happen. I suggested everyone there had, at some point, displayed these qualities—after all, this was a group of Greenville’s best leaders.  But then I also told them that I think the two strongest leaders there were Aziz Abdelmalak and Demetria Sherman, the future homeowners. Both have a vision for their futures. Aziz’s vision is “new life,” And Demetria’s is “peace.”  They took risks to make that vision reality: Demetria went back to college, and Aziz and his family left their home in Egypt in search of asylum in America. And they both recognized that they couldn’t achieve their vision alone—they needed the right team to make it reality. They turned to their churches, friends, and eventually Habitat. And with the right team in place, they’re almost there. Almost—which brings me to a fourth trait of good leaders: they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty. And that’s what this group of CEOs and Aziz and Demetria are about to do as they have now raised the walls on their future homes and begin the build process.  Soon, we will have two new amazing leaders in our Ward 3 community. How lucky we are to have these families call our city “Simply Home.”