Doug Good ’90: Leadership skills can never be undervalued

Commencement speaker spent more than 20 years as a systems engineer for Cisco

doug-good

Doug Good graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in computer science.

Good’s passion for information technology began with his role as a lab supervisor in the BGSU computer labs, and now his career in IT has spanned 27 years.  

Good joined Cisco, an industry leader transforming the global platform of technology, in 1996 as a systems engineer. Up until last week, he served as the vice president of Engineering and Architectures, Americas Sales, for the multinational company. His team consists of 2,500 specialists supporting $20 billion in annual sales for the company, covering the United States, Canada and Latin America.  

Good is passionate about BGSU and is Cisco’s Executive Sponsor for the University. He addressed the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education and Human Development during the December 16 commencement ceremony at the Stroh Center.    

“Twenty-seven years ago, I sat in an audience much like this one, nervous and excited about the endeavor I was about to start,” he told the graduates. “I can assure that the journey is full of surprises, successes and some failures. Every one of you has the potential to achieve, overcome and thrive. That potential is inside each and every one of you. All you have to do is let it out. Let it out each and every day. Congratulations to all of you, and I wish you happiness in whatever you pursue.”

Good pass along his thoughts on leadership and and the qualities of a good leader.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another,” said Good, quoting the Leadership expert and author John Maxwell.  

“Every Day Leadership,” Good said, is what you do every day to inspire and motivate those around you. It is not about the big presentation, the product launch or the completion of a project. These events should be celebrated, but they are the outcome of leadership, not the definition. Every Day leadership is about the phone call to a colleague encouraging them before a big meeting, it’s lifting someone up when they have had a tough time, it’s checking in with your colleagues and being available to your team. It’s about how you make others feel so that they can give their best.  

“When I started at Cisco 21 years ago as a systems engineering in Cincinnati, on my very first day, the director of engineering out of Atlanta — someone that was three levels above me in the organization — called to welcome me to the company and offer his assistance as I settled into a new company,” Good said. “I still remember that call vividly. I’m sure Sam has long since forgotten that phone call, but that’s the beauty of every day leadership. It has a much greater impact on the recipient than the leader.”  

Good said the best part of every day leadership has nothing to do with title, tenure or organizational structure. It’s something that can be applied at work, in school, in your community or at home. It can be applied from your very first day in a new role. Anyone can be an every day leader.  

“Strengths Based Leadership,” another tenet of Maxwell, is based on the belief that we can accomplish more by applying and developing our strengths than by focusing on improving our weaknesses.  

Let’s start by defining a strength,” Good said. “In order for it to be a strength, you must be good at it and derive energy from it. It’s human nature to focus on our weaknesses. We spend an extraordinary amount of time trying to get better in our weakest areas. It is important that are weaknesses are not so inhibiting that they become obstacles to our success, but the rest of our energy should be applied to our strengths.”

Good said in order to find your strengths, reflect on what makes you unique. What are you really good at? What do you do better than those around you and what gives you energy? Ask your friends and family what you do that is unique. Focus on leveraging that unique strength. Then, hone it, grow it and develop it. That is what will set you apart from others.  

“This will become your brand,” he said. “It will be what you are known for and what others will turn to you for. Spending time on your weaknesses will help bring them up to par with everyone else. Spending time refining and applying your unique strengths will set you apart from everyone else. Great leaders will not only recognize the strengths in themselves, but also in those around them and enabling those strengths to get the best out of the entire team. 

“Now, imagine the power of combining every day leadership with strengths based leadership. If you apply your unique strengths and you do it every day, you will be a tremendous leader. If you are already doing this, you are a tremendous leader.”