Successful Entrepreneurs Explain How Their Unique Experiences Shaped Their Leadership Style

We are products of our environment and our experiences. They shape us into the people–and leaders–we are today.

published in Inc.com  By Peter Economy @bizzwriter

How have your own experiences shaped the person–and leader–you are today?

Alex Ontra, Co-Founder of Shufflrr

I’ve been studying ballet since I was about four years old. I still take class every week. I have an inspiring dance teacher who always asks his students to describe the trouble spot in their dance combination. He says that by making students verbalize the problem, they must first identify it, and then describe it. The ability to describe a problem means you understand it, and if you understand, then you are well on your way to solving it. That’s problem-solving applied to a performing art. And I thought, “Wow!” If he can do that with ballet, then I can certainly do that with code. I run a software company, but I do not write code. I do, however, know what our customers want, and what the final product should look like. So when a developer gets stuck, I sit with him and ask questions, using a curious tone, never confrontational. I try to get him to identify the issue, break it down, and then verbalize it. Through that process, he achieves a better understanding of the issue and will therefore be that much closer to solving it. Understanding the issue is 75% of the solution. And, that’s what I learned in ballet school.