Charles Kenney Of LogPoint: 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team
Be empathetic. Being a successful manager and fully helping each employee become a contributing asset, means understanding what success means to each individual, as each person has their own goals, motivations and drivers. While one employee may be motivated by earning a specific income or achieving a milestone, another may be driven by being a part of a team and helping the larger group succeed. Take each employee’s motivation and use that in your management style. One size does not fit all.
As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Charles Kenney.
Charles (Charlie) is responsible for driving strategic growth and overseeing the expanding LogPoint sales, marketing, and technical team in the US, working out of Boston. He brings a deep understanding of the complex and fast-evolving threat landscape challenging all companies today. Kenney is CISSP certified and joins LogPoint with over 25 years of cybersecurity experience. Before joining LogPoint, he held leadership positions at various technology companies, most recently Chief Revenue Officer at SEWORKS, and prior to that in companies such as BitSight Technologies, IBM/Qradar, and Cisco.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
It’s rare to succeed on the first try, especially in relation to finding our professional passion. As we all know, it’s likely to take three or four attempts before we get it right. My advice to all young professionals is to keep an open mind. I began my career as a software engineer, but was fascinated by emerging technology, so I pivoted to become a database administrator. From there, I dabbled in project management, consulting and finally, found my niche in sales.
With the onset of the Internet, the digital revolution began, and I knew I wanted to be directly involved. I began my cybersecurity sales journey as a frontline salesman for firewall solutions. At the time, “firewalls” were the emerging security solution — a must have for all companies and organizations connecting to the Internet. From there, I began building my career in sales, moving up the ladder and into leadership roles at various technology companies, including BitSight Technologies, IBM/Q1 Labs, CISCO and now, my current role as regional director of the Americas at LogPoint, the creator of a reliable, innovative cybersecurity operations platform.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to learn equally as much about my profession as I have about myself as a person and a professional. I began my career believing I was an introvert; however, the more I became ingrained in the industry and the longer my tenure developed in sales, I realized I was more outgoing than I had originally led myself to believe.
It’s incredibly important to reflect on your own style to become more empathetic to others. Once I learned more about myself and what made me a strong salesperson, I was able to be a better leader, coworker and friend. I once believed that my personal life and professional persona were worlds apart, but it turns out they are intertwined.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?
It’s funny you should ask, in my 25+ years in the cybersecurity industry, I have worked for the same leader four separate times — at four different companies. Since the first time over 25 years ago, I’ve always admired him as such an effective leader. In fact, his leadership was so inspiring that previous employees, including myself, stayed connected and joined him at new ventures throughout the years.
As I climbed the corporate ladder and transitioned into a leadership role of my own, I looked to that executive leader’s style to help guide me on my own leadership skills and create the environment for repeated success.
As a leader, I feel it is important to be empathetic, continuously curious and open-minded. There are a variety of characteristics in successful individuals. Some people are social and competitive, while others are shy and driven by assisting others. None of these are mutually exclusive, either. Spending time to understand employees on an individual level and take into account their individual motives for the job can help you be a better leader.
Oftentimes, people tend to leave managers that believe in a “my way or the highway” leadership style. However, there is more than one correct way to get a job done. I prefer to work with each employee individually, giving them the freedom to work in a way that is easiest for them, and empowering them to drive better performance, ultimately resulting in stronger retention on my teams. My motto is to not measure my employees based on the way that they work but on their results.
How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?
I don’t believe this comes as a shock to anyone, but synchronizing large teams has become even more difficult since the majority of the workforce has become virtual. Establishing trust and building relationships in an organization is the foundation for successful collaboration.
One way to collaborate is by spending time together outside of an office setting. A tradition I have carried with me throughout my various leadership positions is making the time to get together and get to know each other on a personal level and our team lunch is something we try to do weekly, COVID permitting. While it sounds simple, it’s where we all let our guard down. It enables us to get to know our colleagues and truly learn about who we are as individuals with different goals, aspirations and perspectives. This comradery, this bonding, allows us to better understand each other, and how we work, which in turn, helps us to better trust and respect each other in and out of the workplace. Helping coworkers see each other on a personal level enables a positive work environment and the more comfortable they feel, the better they will perform.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)
- Be empathetic. Being a successful manager and fully helping each employee become a contributing asset, means understanding what success means to each individual, as each person has their own goals, motivations and drivers. While one employee may be motivated by earning a specific income or achieving a milestone, another may be driven by being a part of a team and helping the larger group succeed. Take each employee’s motivation and use that in your management style. One size does not fit all.
- Constantly learn. Hitting management level does not and should not mean that you stop educating yourself. In fact, it should mean that you make the constant effort to continually grow your knowledge about leadership and your profession. Employees look to their managers to offer guidance and expertise to help grow their career; however, if you stop learning, you cannot provide that expertise. When you stop educating yourself, you can no longer be the mentor your employees need.
- Trust is the main pillar. Building a trustful environment is the key to developing a strong team. Without trust, there is no comradery. To build a strong level of confidence, managers must perform as if they were their own employee. They must do what they say they will, be respectful and professional and, of course, show empathy. Employees have to believe that they can count on you as a manager and as a teammate, because in the end, your goals are aligned and if they need support in order for the larger team to succeed, you should want to jump in. Without the follow-through, a promise turns into empty words and if consistent, will eventually lead to distrust.
- Be engaged. In my experience, the more you involve yourself with your team, the more likely you are to go out of your way to help your people, and the more you pay attention to them, both professionally and personally, the more they want to perform. When management is more engaged in their teams’ work, they have the visibility to see who is truly owning their roles and who may need the extra help. Being an engaged leader can help employees feel valued in their role, understand that their work is appreciated and see that their supervisors are committed to helping them succeed.
- Drive collaboration across teams. Nowadays, teams can be made up of individuals across various time zones. Working to be sure each individual is included within the greater team ensures that no employee feels they are being forgotten about or left behind. A simple, yet effective way to do this is by holding weekly meetings, either face-to-face or virtually, to collaborate across teams, align on objectives and ensure all remain excited about the goals they have set for themselves. While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a challenge, putting in the additional effort to make sure that every single employee, no matter the position or the size of the team, feels included and well-respected, has truly made a difference for all.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Enable, Empower and Trust them to perform at their very best
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
In today’s society, we see endless battles around politics, distrust and skepticism. I move for a revolution that eliminates the smoke and mirrors we tend to see in the business world and instead, bring forth a new strategy of plain-spoken candidness. Imagine a life, a workplace culture where we took away the need to constantly appease or tip-toe around what we truly want to say. While there are boundaries that should never be crossed, if we were to be open and direct in our language, goal setting and actions, we could not only save an incredible amount of time, but we could limit the amount of build-up of negative thoughts towards our colleagues and peers. There’s nothing to build up if there’s constant transparency.
I like to say that as a team, we’re working together to climb a mountain. Without trust, candor and support, we’ll never reach the top.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Sir Edmund Hillary was one of the first two people to climb Mt. Everest, the other being Tenzig Norgay. Hillary’s autobiography, highlighting the mental and physical battle he conquered to achieve his goal is titled “Nothing Venture. Nothing Win” — a quote I deeply value and feel attached to.
This inspirational phrase directly relates to the eight start-up and early-stage companies I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of. It’s natural for start-ups to be high risk and many people may not want to take on this kind of unknown challenge in their careers. Meanwhile, I’m motivated by chance and have been fortunate enough to have been victorious through these endeavors. I firmly believe that if you do not take the risk, you will not truly feel the exhilarating satisfaction of success. “Nothing Venture, Nothing Win.”
Thank you for these great insights!