True Leaders Take Care of Others Before Themselves


True Leaders Take Care of Others Before Themselves

Ben Davee
FLASH EVP and General Manager, EV 
Charging Division.

The strongest leaders model the term “servant leadership.” This person takes care of others before themselves, displays humility, and can also inspire and motivate people. These types of leaders understand and model the phrase: “it’s not about you!” By modeling this behavior, leaders can create a trusting environment where people have the creativity and empowerment to tackle very difficult business challenges.

In order to create that sense of trust, leaders have to cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable sharing feedback, and sharing thoughts on strategy, etc. Grace for mistakes is key, especially in fast-moving teams. 

Great leaders are hyper-focused on the professional development of people below them. In the military, mentorship is extremely important and it is expected that you are mentoring every member of your team. One of the most rewarding aspects of life is to see the growth of someone you have mentored. And if you are seeking out mentorship as a leader, having that higher-level guidance is going to make you a better leader.

A leader is someone who truly cares about their people and who can inspire their team to solve difficult challenges. 

Good leaders truly know their people: their goals, background, etc., and invest in their future. By understanding each teammate’s purpose or “why” they work, strong leaders can create a nexus between the larger strategic business goals and that individual’s purpose. On the other hand, a manager is often a leader in title only. Unfortunately, they are focused on their professional success instead of caring for their team and their professional development. Managers cannot often inspire and cannot clearly define the “why” or purpose behind their team’s work. Everyone on a team has to be willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work, no matter what their title is. 

Seeing things anew every day comes from reminding myself of that “why” or purpose in life. It comes down to having both a personal “why” and a business “why. My personal “why” is the daily understanding that I am entrusted with peoples’ livelihood as their leader. It is critical that I be a good steward for my teammates and their families, and assist them with their future career growth. This is an amazing blessing to be in a position of trust and I don’t take that for granted.

No, I don’t think C-Titles make a difference. Coming from my background in the military, you have to earn your title as a leader, every day. And you earn that title by taking care of your team, making difficult decisions in stressful times, and being proficient at what you do. You can hold any title, but if you can’t lead and motivate people it doesn’t matter – you won’t be seen as a leader. 

I’ve always been a big fan of Winston Churchill. He was an inspiring servant leader who clearly understood the needs of his people and how to motivate them to achieve what was thought to be impossible. Through his impactful speeches and never-quit attitude, he was able to rally his country and people in a time of distress to defeat Nazi Germany.

A successful team is born in an environment formed around trust; people need to feel like they are protected and in a safe work environment where their opinions are heard and truly matter. On the battlefield, successful teams have an incredible amount of trust. They know their teammate will do just about anything to assist and protect them. This may sound extreme, but we can strive for the same trust in the corporate world. 

High-performing teams also need to be comfortable with failing fast and learning from their mistakes. You can’t dwell on the past and have to move forward. I remind people that cars have big windshields for viewing what is in front of them and small side mirrors for looking into the past. 

My dream job is any leadership role where I can work with talented, high-performing, motivated people. I love tackling difficult, challenging problems – like electrification and sustainability. I’m doing my dream job today. EVs are one of the biggest tech trends of the last 25 years and nobody has approached the mobility problem on the scale like we are doing today. 

In the military we had a phrase, “Mission First, People Always,” and we were constantly striving to find the balance between performance and care for our people. Some of these learnings can be applied to the corporate world, but at the end of the day, it’s all about your people. No product, no matter how successful or wonderfully made, will have success without an amazing team behind it. //

Ben Davee is FLASH EVP and General Manager, EV Charging Division.

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