Partner at Atlanta’s ‘Best Place to Work’ Gives Students Leadership Advice

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 28, 2021

The southeast regional offices of mortgage company Supreme Lending topped Atlanta Business Chronicle’s list of the Best Places to Work in 2020. As part of the Michael J. Coles College of Business’s flagship leadership series, Supreme Lending’s regional operating partner Pat Flood spoke to Kennesaw State University students about his approach to leading people and building relationships.

Flood’s presentation was part of the Coles College’s Tetley Distinguished Leader Lecture Series, which invites prominent business and community leaders to campus to share insights with students. The Tetley series had been on a hiatus since Spring 2020. Flood’s virtual session marked the popular program’s return.

Pat Flood, regional operating partner for Supreme Lending

Speaking to students from across campus via Zoom, Flood's theme was Destination: BEST, and discussed the importance of relationships when it comes to personal and professional success.

“If you don’t get relationships right, you will limit your personal and professional best,” Flood said. “Conversely, if you create a successful blueprint for how to get relationships right in live all the time, you will wind up being the best version of yourself.”

Supreme Lending places a strong emphasis on staff development. The company has a system in place for encouraging staff to set personal goals in their lives – ranging from fitness and finance to family – while also providing tools to achieve those goals and hold themselves accountable. Called BEST GPS, the system demonstrates to the staff that the company is commitment to their growth.

The result of these and other engagement activities is that Supreme Lending’s employees report an overwhelmingly positive level of job satisfaction. In the last year, Supreme Lending has been named the no. 1 company of its size on Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Best Places to Work list and on Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s list of Top Workplaces.

Cultivating this level of engagement is difficult, considering that a Gallup poll from 2020 found that only 36 percent of American employees report feeling engaged at work. Flood told the students that this is a leadership problem, specifically among leaders who believe their jobs are about earning profit at the expense of employee fulfillment.

“When leaders feel this way, associates don’t feel like it’s a journey everyone is on together,” Flood said. “Leaders need to create a vision for their organization where everyone can join together. Leaders have to talk the talk and walk the walk.

“If you show me an organization where associates are disengaged or actively disengaged, I’ll show you a leader who needs a new thing to do in life.”

Made possible by a generous donation from former Tetley, Inc. CEO Hank McInerney, the Tetley Distinguished Leaders Lecture series has brought prominent business and community leaders to Kennesaw State University since 1990 to share their insights with students. Previous presenters have included Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, founder of the Great American Cookie Company Michael Coles, and Steve Koonin, CEO of the Atlanta Hawks.

Flood’s key takeaway for students was to remember the difference between being a manager and being a leader.

“Managers manage stuff,” he said. “Leaders lead people.”

-Patrick Harbin

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