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"In the past when I led large teams, it was usually by phone and email. I had to travel a lot—I accepted that the travel was part of the positions so it was fine—but the big challenge was that with a large geographic area to cover I would be in my car many hours each week and I didn't have much face time."
In addition to the ability to cultivate rich connections with his team, Michael appreciates the fresh take on leadership at Room & Board. With the focus on ownership and individual accountability, he is able to create a very different team dynamic. "Our flat organization really empowers people to broaden their role, so in turn my role is more about leading and being a resource rather than being directive and having to follow a predetermined task list. While it is a lot more work, I see myself as an inspirational coach and it is a lot more rewarding."
This structure has benefited his career growth as well, especially as it relates to developing strategy and building the brand in his market. "I think every market is different and a key component to success in my role is truly understanding what is happening within my market and then really feeling like I can chart a course on how to drive the business. I love that I can be connected to the community without red tape—and while it is up to me to set the direction it is still collaborative and I feel like I have a lot of support."
Room & Board also sparked a new interest in design for Michael that has grown since joining the San Francisco team, "I was at a point in my career where I was discovering that I was much more of a creative-based person and when I saw the Room & Board showroom I sensed a great vibe and an amazing attentiveness from the Design Associates. This was the catalyst I needed to learn more and through the interview experience I realized this was a place I would enjoy coming to every day. This is something that you don't find everywhere."