Monday, April 15, 2024


Last fall, I featured an inspiring series here on my blog called, "Fall Back to Reading Series." Nearly 30 leadership, marketing, and customer experience experts participated and shared their favorite books and their thoughts about the importance of reading.

Joseph Lalonde, one participant, wrote a book entitled, REEL LEADERSHIP, which focuses on nontraditional ways to think about leadership. After I read the book, the seeds for this "Spring Leadership Series" were planted. Today, I’d like to introduce Ron Thomas, and following a brief introduction, Ron shares some nontraditional ways to think about leadership!

Ron Thomas is a distinguished global leader and strategist acclaimed for his contributions to human resources and organizational strategy. As the Managing Director of Strategy Focused Group, he leverages his expertise across offices in Dubai and Singapore. His career has seen him excel as CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf, CHRO of Al Raha Group, and VP of HR at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Recognized by CIPD as a top HR thinker in the Middle East, Ron holds awards for Global HR Excellence and is celebrated among Asia's 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders. His voice resonates powerfully, meriting a place in the Power 200 Biggest Voices in Leadership.

QUESTION: Which film showcases leadership in a memorable way?
RON THOMAS: My choice would be THE GODFATHER (three-film series) because it covers so many key business principles:

(1) Strategic Thinking: Don Corleone is a master strategist. He uses calculated moves, like brokering peace between rival families, to strengthen his position and expand his territory. In business, we should be consistently analyzing markets, anticipating competitors, and planning long-term growth.

(2) Delegation and Trust: The Don surrounds himself with capable capos like Clemenza and Tessio, empowering them to handle specific tasks with autonomy. Translate this to building a well-organized team, assigning roles strategically, and fostering trust through empowerment.

(3) Adaptability and Change Management: The Corleones navigate changing political landscapes and adopt new ventures like gambling to stay ahead. Leaders should be able to adapt to market shifts, technological advancements, and evolving customer needs.

(4) Loyalty and Respect: The Corleones thrive on the unwavering loyalty of their soldiers. In business, cultivating trust and loyalty among employees and partners builds a strong foundation and fosters commitment.

(5) Building Alliances: Forming strategic partnerships with influential players opens new doors and strengthens influence. The Don's dealings with political figures and other families illustrate this principle.

(6) Understanding People: The Don possesses exceptional people skills. He reads emotions, anticipates needs, and builds rapport with diverse individuals. This translates to effective communication, empathy-driven leadership, and the ability to motivate and inspire.

SHARE THIS: In business, cultivating trust and loyalty among employees and partners builds a strong foundation and fosters commitment. ~@ronald_thomas #SpringLeadershipSeries #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Which work of fiction showcases leadership in a memorable way?
RON THOMAS: My favorite book is ALWAYS START WITH WHY by Simon Sinek. I think the significant misstep in change or persuasion is we do not give a strong WHY. Develop a WHY STATEMENT IS AT THE TOP of any change. The leadership team should ensure this statement aligns from the top of the org chart to the bottom.

QUESTION: Which product, or product line, stands out as a symbol of leadership?
RON THOMAS: My choice would be APPLE. What other brand can announce a new product (we are coming up on the 16th model of the iPhone!), and there is already speculation that no other product has that amount of gravitas. Apple leads the Mobile Category.

QUESTION: Lastly, since I’m a marketing professional, I would be remiss not to ask this question: Which brand do you consider the best embodiment of an industry leader, and why?
RON THOMAS: My other choice would be RIMOWA, a luxury luggage brand. There is almost a cult following. (I own four pieces.) The quality of the product, the warranty, the stores, the customer service experience. For all these reasons, Rimowa is my choice.

Did these questions open your eyes to thinking about leadership in nontraditional ways? That was the hope. My gratitude to Ron for appearing on my blog, and for sharing his leadership insights.

Image Credits: Debbie Laskey, iStockphoto, Amazon, and Classroom Clipart.

Note: According to Wikipedia, "The Godfather is a crime novel by American author Mario Puzo. Originally published in 1969 by G. P. Putnam's Sons, the novel details the story of a fictional Mafia family in New York City (and Long Island), headed by Vito Corleone, the Godfather. The novel covers the years 1945 to 1955 and includes the back story of Vito Corleone from early childhood to adulthood. The first in a series of novels, The Godfather is noteworthy for introducing Italian words like consigliere, caporegime, Cosa Nostra, and omertà to an English-speaking audience. It inspired a 1972 film of the same name. Two film sequels, including new contributions by Puzo himself, were made in 1974 and 1990."

Interesting links pertaining to this Q&A:
The Godfather Trilogy:

The Godfather Named Best Business Film:

What You Can Learn about Business from a Dozen Lines in The Godfather:


Connect with Ron at these links:

Check out Ron's previous appearances here on my blog:

How Will Your Team Decide If You’re a Good Leader? (January 2021)

Lead and Then Get Out of the Way (February 2015)

Tactics for Welcoming New Employees, Increasing Productivity and Developing Effective Leaders (April 2011)

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