78: Leaders With Heart Intentionally Drive A Sense Of Purpose In Those They Lead

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In this episode, Heather speaks with Ethan Mann, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Sharklet Technologies, Inc., an innovative surface technology company. Ethan talks about his leadership style, his unique action-focused leadership core, the role of emotional intelligence in his leadership and a good pearl of wisdom for any leader looking to expand their world view.

Key Takeaways:

  • Make sure you have a core value that guides you.
  • Take in the experiences of the people you lead, good and bad.
  • Have a service-based leadership style that says, “How can I help you?”
  • Make sure to be a flexible leader, working around like a family.
  • Meet people where they find their true value in life.
  • Being flexible may mean you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • Engage in service outside of your organization, such as boards or volunteer roles to expand your view.

This episode is surely overflowing with learning. Enjoy!

Dr. Ethan Mann is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Sharklet Technologies, Inc., an innovative surface technology company based in Aurora, CO. Sharklet is focused on improving health through the use of engineered microtopographies inspired by the skin of Sharks. He leads operations in Denver, CO. Dr. Mann was recruited to Sharklet at the end of 2012 by Sharklet’s previous President and CEO, Mark Spiecker. He has led many of Sharklet’s pioneering scientific studies aimed at demonstrating the use of engineered textures for biological control.

Dr. Mann holds a Bachelor of Science from Chadron State College in Chadron, NE. In 2010, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska in Pathology and Microbiology and accepted a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, in Columbus, OH. Dr. Mann studied infectious disease mechanisms with Ohio State University’s Professor of Microbiology, Dr. Daniel Wozniak. Following his postdoc, Dr. Mann took an R&D position at Sharklet Technologies, Inc, in Aurora, CO to pioneer studies supporting the paradigm shifting use of the Sharklet micropattern to combat device-related infections. Successful benchtop, preclinical, and clinical studies resulted in Dr. Mann’s participation in strategy and operations while at Sharklet. Following Sharklet’s financial acquisition by a pair of Chinese investors, he was asked to lead the next chapter of Sharklet’s growth toward commercialization. While at Sharklet, Dr. Mann also earned an MBA specializing in finance from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Ethan currently serves on NIH review panels to evaluate small business innovation research grants which support creation of small businesses nationally. Ethan dedicates his volunteer time to the Colorado Bioscience Association, serving on the Board of Directors, and to Our Lady of Loreto Catholic School as a member of the leadership on the organizational board and fund-raising committee.

Dr. Mann enjoys recreational activity in addition to professional and volunteer activities. Ethan has been married to his wife Tracy for 14 years, and they have four children with a fifth child due in August! They enjoy many outdoor activities in Colorado and Nebraska including fishing, camping, hiking, and jeeping. As a family, they also try to take in as many sporting events as possible!

The Value of Opinion

I interact with people from all sorts of discipline, including people from both the business and science backgrounds. That’s why I certainly understand the value of opinion. 

In my experience, I have realized that even though at the moment, I might not understand the weight or the meaning of the various opinions of my colleagues, I still take those things with an open heart and I try to learn from them. 

While I’ve had a decent amount of experience in life, I am certain that I’m still on a path towards learning and ultimately getting to a point of maturity in leadership.

To advance as a leader, you should engage in service-oriented leadership. – @DrEthanMann #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

The Steady Foundation

It’s difficult to reach an EQ scale verbally. It has to happen through actions and interactions. – @DrEthanMann #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

In the academic science world where I came from, we have a secret that only a few understand. Generally, things rarely work out. Most of the time it doesn’t, and only occasionally does it work.

When somebody comes to me with something that didn’t go the way they thought it was going to go, I’m usually not that surprised because it’s almost how I anticipate things are going to go anyway. I don’t get too low when things do not work out the way it should.

But I also know that when somebody comes to me with overwhelming feelings or feedback, especially when something goes fruitful, I am casually optimistic. I understand that they’re excited but I had seen things go poorly before. So, I try and maintain a steady foundation.

Because of that, I would always come across as not very empathetic. Sometimes, I have to intentionally try and do things, such as asking for additional time or questions so that I can convey that caring attitude in a different way, or make an emotional response or a look in my face so that there’s still that interaction.

There are times when I do that well and times when I don’t, which can be detrimental but I am still working that out. 

The Propelling Action

I have always been interested in leading. Maybe I was born interested in the leadership role. However, I’ve never been a vocal leader.

I’ve always been an action leader. It probably developed most through my experience with athletics. Up to this day, I think athletics are important for a lot of the youth out there. These young ones have the ability to interact within the athletic microcosm that is so dynamically different than the traditional school setting. Also, it helps develop core values needed for the working world.

In my work in in-depth science and finance, seeing the direction of an endeavour can be very complex, but I‘ve always found it easier than some of my colleagues. I’ve learned that defining the unknown is very helpful to move towards execution.

And so, providing the critical skillset in a certain circumstance can really propel action to those around us. Maybe their skillset is on the executional side or on the organisational side. But its critical value relies on how to leverage pieces to make that happen. Those are the things that begin to propel an action-focused leader. That’s where I see my career moving as I interact with my colleagues in my field on a daily basis.

When your people come to you, when they ask for some flexibility and you’re not able to give it to them, that’s really the last chance you’re probably going to get to actually support them. – @DrEthanMann #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetDefining the unknown is very helpful to move towards execution. – @DrEthanMann #leadershipwithheart Click To TweetI value life and people’s experiences intentionally, whether it be good or bad. – @DrEthanMann #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

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