Empowered Leadership

Leadership Skills

Insights From Doug

Over the past 29 years as an owner, entrepreneur, and CEO of Carolina Ingredients, Doug has accumulated a number of insights. While he has many principles that guide his process, these six create the framework in which he best junctions and leads to successful relationships.



The key insights of being a leader include:

  • Culture
  • Vision
  • Leadership
  • Passion
  • Transparency
  • Authenticity


This is perhaps the most important role of a CEO. There is an old saying which I am fond of “If you don’t set the culture others within the organization will set it for you.” A culture exists within all organizations and can vary between departments. Rarely is the culture what we hope it to be throughout a company. Be proactive in keeping the culture aligned with your intentions by setting up monthly core culture meetings. Creating a culture isn’t a one time event, it is a continuous process.



One of my favorite sayings is “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Vision is about setting the path for your future. It is the What one wants the company to become and a mission statement is the Why in what you want to it become. If you don’t have a vision of your future and you don’t know the Why, then any road will get you there because one hasn’t intentionally aligned one’s vision for the journey.



Bosses have direct reports; Leaders have followers. Leaders are influencers and they lead by example - earning respect, not demanding it. One can lead because they have a title but that doesn’t transcend to true leadership. True leadership is demonstrated by empowering your teams, holding them accountable, being consistent in all things and engaging with employees from all walks of life. True leaders are effective communicators who don’t shy away from bad news, difficult discussions, or chose to massage reality. They are quick to embrace reality and quickly deal with situations that inspire their direct reports. Leaders say what they mean, mean what they say, and expect the same performance / outcome from themselves as they do others.



As a former CEO, all of our original Senior Management Team members work for the company because they believe in the culture, in our mission, and our vision. It seemed they all had a calling for their specific position in our industry. Their commitment was more focused on their passion for what they did rather than the job. They didn’t come to work for a paycheck. They were there because of their passion. Of course, everyone wants to make a good living and a paycheck is important, but people don’t stay with organizations long term because of a paycheck they stay because of their passion, the organization’s culture and vision. Peers eventually will ask themselves if a boss is there because of passion or paycheck. Rarely do people follow bosses who work for a paycheck they usually follow leaders who have a passion for something bigger.



Recently I was asked by a new manager what was one of the most important characteristics of a leader. After a good deal of thought and reflection based on my experiences, transparency became apparent. In today’s VUCA world (volatile, uncertainty, complex, and ambiguous), being transparent with your teams is paramount. Most people today aren’t willing to follow leaders who aren’t willing to communicate, be open to other’s viewpoints, explain the why and what they are trying to accomplish. Being transparent means, you are willing to be vulnerable with your teams, willing to articulate what you want to achieve, the why, and how each team’s role fits into the design process of the goal’s success.



Millennials can sniff out a leader’s genuineness and authenticity quickly. Be yourself and be genuine with your teams. People can read through the BS and falseness of situations. I have found if I am authentic, truthful, and real, people will place their trust in me. I haven’t found many leaders who can truly fake their way and have people stay with them long term. Over time, teams follow leaders who are trustworthy. Being transparent is certainly a characteristic that breeds loyalty.

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