By Racheal A. Mack
Miles Anthony Smith, an ambivert and serial specialist, has held senior, executive leadership positions for several businesses or business units over the years with broad management skills across accounting, finance, human resources, digital marketing, and leadership. He currently works for Rawhide Boys Ranch as Director of Vehicle Donations and Digital Marketing and earned a Bachelor of Music Composition degree from Oral Roberts University and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University, highlighting his unique ability to operate equally in left and right brain functions. Miles has a knack for spotting and developing talented, cohesive teams focused on new product development and digital/content marketing, resulting in top line and bottom line growth. He is also the author of Why Leadership Sucks™ and Becoming Generation Flux. Miles and his wife Carolyn live with their three children in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
MM: What motivated and inspired you in your background to become a business author?
Miles: I went through 15+ years of challenges and frustration in navigating my career as a young leader; I guess I was naive and expected it to be easier to figure things out. However, we often help others on their journey with precisely the tough stuff we have experienced before, kind of like a guide. I aspire to lead people on their journey, especially along the challenging career and leadership paths I have walked.
MM: What makes a good business book?
Miles: One that has humor, personal experience, practical/applicable advice, all based on the credibility of the author’s experience and research with a heavy emphasis on the former.
MM: What are your three favorite business books, and why?
Miles: Good to Great by Jim Collins is a business classic that came out when I was just starting out in my career; it inspired me that leaders can and should aim to be the best in the world or their niche for something specific. The Case for Servant Leadership by Dr. Kent M. Keith was a fundamental and quick read that solidified what I was already beginning to experiment with in my own leadership. Many books by Seth Godin were motivational also, but All Marketers Are Liars is one of my favorites. That book inspired the title of one of my books Why Leadership Sucks. Plus Seth’s book Poke the Box, along with God’s direction and my wife’s encouragement gave me the 1, 2, 3 kick in the pants to get off my duff, stop talking about writing a book, and just do it.
MM: What inspired your book title “Leadership Sucks”?
Miles: Seth Godin, Christ, and my wife (See above)
MM: Do you think some people are born to lead?
Miles: Some people have a more natural inclination, but it is all up to us to learn and grow into those tall boots. We each have to find our way by learning from others and various situations then making it fit our own style. No one else can be exactly the leader I am and vice versa.
MM: With all the changes to the business world, have the requirements for a good leader changed?
Miles: Absolutely, but perhaps all generations say that same thing. I see the much more important need for being adaptable today compared to even a decade ago, since business cycles are changing every day instead of every 5, 10, 20, or 50 years like they used to. Small is the new big. Large organizations that can’t innovate and adapt will shrivel and strive just to maintain things, and companies (large or small) that build nimbleness into their culture will thrive. This has always been, but it used to take much longer before companies HAD to change. Now, they MUST change every day.
MM: What are the most difficult challenges for new leaders?
Miles: Navigating a world of increasing complexity and discerning what information is wise and valid versus stuff that is crap advice. Plus, leadership does suck if you take the position of serving others, since many people will not respond favorably even if you chose the higher road. People will misunderstand you, discredit you, and smear your reputation just because they don’t agree with your decisions. And you have to deal with all of the crap at the end of the day. They buck stops with leaders; we don’t have anyone else to blame.
MM: If you had a choice, what would be your preferred leadership style and why?
Miles: Servant leadership based on the teachings of Christ. Quite simply, it takes a depth of character and experience to lead others where you have already been, all the while serving their needs (not wants). It is not subservient to them; however, it recognizes that I don’t know everything and that the person closest to the situation needs to be listened to and given a shot at executing their job well without being too overbearing or disengaged.
MM: What attributes do you personally look for in a leader?
Miles: One that will invest in me without me having to draw it out of them. Now, this isn’t always the case with bosses I have had, but even if that is the case, I aim to be a solid leader even when I follow a weaker leader. In that way, I choose to serve others and shield others from the weight of poor leadership above me.
MM: What are you working on now?
Miles: 2 companion books to Why Leadership Sucks (Part 2) and Becoming Generation Flux (Recruiting & Retaining Generation Flux. I am even more excited about the book after that called The Serial Specialist, since it encapsulates my leadership and career identity. This concept helped crystallize what I have come to learn about my skills and abilities. I used to think of myself as a generalist and now know that I am a serial specialist. These people are a tremendous creative and innovative asset for companies, yet most HR departments aren’t set up to attract or retain these folks. In fact, they do the opposite.
MM: Where can Millennium readers connect and follow you
Miles: Your readers can connect and follow me below:
I also have a companion course for my book “Why Leadership Sucks” live on Udemy.com: www.udemy.com/why-leadership-sucks-101-guiding-your-leadership-journey
MM: Do you have a special offer or Millennium readers?
Miles: Yes, If you get either one of my audiobooks, email me from my website, mention you read about me in Millennium Magazine, and I will send you a complimentary download code for the other book on Audible.com