Steve Keating is an online leadership influencer extraordinaire. His Twitter posts are consistently re-tweeted and his insight is valuable for me and thousands of others who follow him. I decided it was time to get to know the man behind the leadership tweets.
Steve’s bio includes 25 years of sales and sales management experience, including 8 –1/2 years with the Dale Carnegie organization. You can follow Steve’s tweets HERE or connect with him on LinkedIn HERE.
Here are 10 questions with leader Steve Keating:
When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?
When I was growing up I wanted to be a hockey player. That plan was working well until one January day during my second year of college. It turns out, it’s kind of tough to play hockey with only one good knee. ☺ So business was my next choice and I knew early on that as much as I wanted to succeed it would be even more rewarding to help others succeed as well. That has lead me to where I am today.
What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?
I fixed vending machines during college. It was hard kind of dirty work with a surprising amount of stress. But many of the lessons learned there carry forward to this day, particularly giving people bad news, dealing with unhappy people (nothing like dealing with people who have missed their morning cup of coffee to help you learn how unhappy some people can be) and seeing things from other people’s point of view.
Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?
I have been so blessed to have good Christian men as mentors throughout my life. One of the earliest that stand out was my 7th grade teacher – Cyril Paul. My first close contact with a person of another race was with Mr. Paul, he was my teacher with Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. I saw the pain and anger but I also saw the grace & dignity with which he dealt with it. I learned from him that when things don’t go your way to remember, it’s not all about you. I watched him, in all his hurt, pray for our country & thank God for the work that Dr. King had done. Even at that young age you knew you mattered, you knew he cared. He instilled in all of us real hope for our futures. I learned from Mr. Paul that when you give someone hope, you really give them the opportunity to be everything they can be.
Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?
This one is easy! It’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Many people don’t realize it but I believe Mr. Carnegie drew many of the principles of his book straight from scripture. The book is well known as a “self-help” book but it’s really about helping yourself by helping others.
What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?
Caring – I hope this comes through. I truly try (I fail too often) to live for Christ. If the “caring” doesn’t show I have really missed the mark.
Perfectionist – I’m not sure I like this one but I know many people (including my wife) would describe me this way. I say I’m not sure I like this one because it can be a twined edged sword. Sometimes trying for perfection leads to frustration and frustration is a very short step from anger.
Diligent – The greatest compliment anyone could pay is would be to say my word is as good as gold. When I say I would do something I stick to it until it is done. I hate to disappoint people.
What is your greatest strength in leadership?
I would say my greatest strength is that I get more excited helping others succeed than I do succeeding myself. I don’t suppose I’ve always felt that way but as I grow older I feel more of a calling to give myself to others so that they might have some of the success that has been given to me.
What is your greatest weakness in leadership?
You might have noticed from my tweets that I love to give advice ☺ But my greatest weakness also comes from giving that advice. My weakness is frustration, I get frustrated when people ask for advice, when I carefully, thoughtfully coach, and then people do something almost totally opposite from my recommendation. The good news is that I forget the experience pretty quickly and become willing to help again as soon as I’m asked.
What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?
The hardest thing for me is telling someone they are wrong. I try to “paint them a picture” or share a story that illustrates where they might be wrong but sometimes you just have to say it, you’re wrong. I try to do it in a caring manner and to make the fault seem easy to correct. I try to do it in a way that reduces the chance of an argument but however I do it, it’s still never a pleasant experience for anyone.
What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?
Interesting question! We were at a church for 15 years and left that church last August. We were accepted into membership at our new church home, John Piper’s church, Bethlehem Baptist, just yesterday. We were a key part of the leadership team at our former church and began to notice disturbing changes over our last 18 months there. “Seekers” became “customers” and the only way to honor God was by raising large amounts of money. It became man’s church and not God’s church. As these things started to happen many of the member’s come to me and asked me to “fix” them. I think the assumption was that I simple comment to the Pastor, from me would put things back to normal. In a way that was a great compliment but as it tuned out, my influence was way way over-rated.
If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?
My best piece of advice would be to do what you love, whatever it is. From that love will come passion and that passion, when used for good, will often lead to excellence.
Do Steve’s answers trigger any thoughts in your mind about your own leadership?