Leadership Roundtable With Chamber Leaders

Posted On 03/16/2016 by St. Pete Chamber
Kate Harris, SPYP Communications Co-Chair

SPYP’s Leadership Roundtable series is a monthly, member-exclusive program that connects young professionals with major leaders to discuss personal and professional growth, goals and success.

February’s Leadership Roundtable featured President & CEO of the St. Pete Chamber, Chris Steinocher and Greg Holden, VP with Manning & Napier Advisors and current St. Pete Chamber Board of Governors Chair.  Steinocher and Holden met with 15 young professionals on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 to speak about leadership, how to make an impact in business and navigate the work-life balance.

Overcoming Challenges in Leadership
Holden explained that leadership is often viewed in one way, the “Type A” leader who organizes a meeting and bangs a gavel. There are many approaches to leadership and this is important to remember when identifying challenges and opportunities.  Holden said, “In our community we have many organizations that are focusing on similar issues. These separate ideas are rooted from the right place but there is an opportunity for a leader to bring these people and goals together. It might be stepping forward then stepping back in order to identify these siloed ideas and meld them into one larger effort.”


Steinocher added to Holden’s thoughts, “Know where the parade is (especially in volunteer efforts). Typically there’s a parade already going on, with a momentum that is taking the ideas and people to a different place. You don’t stop or question the parade; you get in and begin to guide it where it needs to go. Figure out the context of where the parade is going, what is the mission is and how it can be tied into the strategic plan. Progress is slowed when someone comes in and wants to re-route the whole parade (think: redo the strategic plan).  The most impact is made by going with the flow of the work in progress. “

Keeping Focused and Navigating Politics 
“There is going to be a point in your career where you can choose to be right or you can choose to be effective; choose being effective,” Steinocher advised.  “It takes a mature thought process to be able to hear someone else’s point of view and be able to bring the room together in consensus. Essentially, consensus is the honest commitment of ‘I understand you, you understand me, and we understand each other’s viewpoint so now let’s move forward together.”

Some leaders want to “do” and some want to “be”. Approaching an organization from a “doer” perspective allows driving towards a goal in mind with pure intent and the ability to visualize the shared vision of the goal, as well as establishing your credibility of arriving at the finish line. “Relationship building is paramount to becoming involved in an organization. It lays the foundation of working together so in the future when you need a favor or support on something the other person is willing to step up and give it,” said Holden.

Solving Problems and Making Decisions
Be willing to have conversations about tough issues. This brings all parties together to be on the same page and helps prioritize what is critical.  Don’t forget though, that sometimes just starting work on the issue is the best strategy. Not everything can be perfectly mapped out to a strategic goal from the beginning. A strong leader is there to inspire people to visualize the end in sight and motivate them to begin the process.

Steinocher explained that failure is an option. “I’d rather fail early and often because it means you’re trying, doing things and figuring out what works. You can’t be afraid to go all out because of the idea of not succeeding. If you’re afraid to fail, you’re limiting your potential as a leader.”

Key Takeaways and Final Thoughts
Steinocher is the type of person who goes with his gut. “I’m a heartfelt leader and I make decisions based on if I can look at myself in the mirror and be ok with the choices I’ve made. I’m also ok with not winning all the time. If you look at life as something to constantly win you’re going to be disappointed half the time. At the end of the day, what’s important is that you feel positive about your choices and that you’re contributing to the end goal,” Steinocher explained.

Holden moved to the area without knowing many people and saw the challenge before him. He realized the importance of engaging people and being willing to establish a relationship by finding out what people were passionate about and helping them work towards that goal.  Holden says, “When you want to engage with someone, engage with them on their terms.  Also, say yes to things. There is a large benefit to venturing into the unknown and to taking on new opportunities.”

The end goal for St. Petersburg is growth, but in an authentic way.  The Chamber and SPYP is focused on helping the city grow authentically while keeping the intrinsic qualities that make St. Petersburg so unique and vibrant. The good news is, there is room and a need for more ideas, leadership and contributions. The easiest way to get involved is to join the parade.


About Greg Holden:
Holden began his involvement through the St. Pete Young Professionals Council, which he eventually chaired for two terms. Holden has served on the Chamber Board since 2011 and works hard to help elevate SPYP and the many great young leaders within our community to be part of the important conversations shaping our future. He has twice been recognized as an Up & Comer by the Tampa Bay Business Journal and was recently recognized by the Boy Scouts as a Distinguished Citizen.

About Chris Steinocher:
Steinocher is President and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.  He joined the Chamber in February of 2011 and is responsible for the vision, strategic direction and overall operations of the Chamber.  His current post is a “coming home” of sorts for him as he was employed at the Chamber over 24 years ago. Steinocher has been a resident of St. Petersburg for over 26 years along with his wife, Juli. They are the proud parents of two boys.