At First Tee, we guide kids to strengthen what’s inside and put it into action because strong character, inner strength and resilience is needed now more than ever. This month we are talking to leaders within our Network about their experiences and key lessons learned over the course of their careers.
Kelvin Williams, Senior Vice President, Business Operations at First Tee Headquarters
What is your current role at First Tee and what is the most rewarding part of your job?
Senior Vice President, Business Operations. Definitely helping others be successful. And knowing that what we do is making a difference in the lives of young people.
This month we’re celebrating Black History Month and lifting up voices of Black participants, coaches and leaders exploring what it means to be a leader. What does leadership mean to you?
It means being a good example, practicing what I preach, and doing what I say I am going to do. It also means being consistent and maintaining a great attitude no matter what… Attitude reflects leadership.
Did you always know you wanted to be in a leadership role? Can you share a little bit about your journey and how you’ve developed into your current role?
Yes. It started with my parents. People really respected them because of their strong work ethic and the manner in which they carried themselves. They would often get asked to lead various activities at church, work or in the community, and I knew one day I wanted follow in their footsteps. As I began my career, I held on to those qualities and observed others in leadership roles. I learned what to do and what not to do, and from there I developed my own leadership style, which helped me to advance up the ladder and into the role I currently serve in.
Who were some of the strong voices or mentors in your life that inspired you?
My Wife, Parents and Pastors.
Can you give an example of a challenge you have faced in your career and how have you worked to overcome it?
Absolutely. 17 years ago, as a new manager, I was struggling trying to find ways to motivate one of my team members, and it really drove me crazy because I could not get this guy to perform at a higher level . Later that year, I went to a manager/leadership seminar and it was very enlightening. My biggest take way from the seminar was the effective listening session, and I was inspired and determined to take what I learned back to my office and try it on the team member I was struggling to motivate. And it worked! By listening, I was able to get to know him and build a relationship, which fostered trust. And in return, he trusted me and shared his goals and dreams with me. And because of that I was finally able to help him be successful because I listened to him and learned how to get his engine going.
How does or can First Tee play a role in bringing more diversity to our game?
By continuing to provide all young people, regardless of race, gender or social economic background, the opportunity to participate. And being intentional about hiring and recruiting leadership that looks like the community we want to serve.
What advice do you have for young people entering the job market determined to make a career for themselves?
- Do what you say you’re going to do.
- Don’t let anyone out work you.
- Pay your dues.
- Have fun!