BlackEnterprise.com presents Month of the Man, where we bring you career features, insights and advice tailored for male leaders of color all over the world.
As a young professional, it can be a grand day when you’ve finally earned the respect of your colleagues and boss and you’re given the chance to show and prove at a higher position. However, it can also be a day of dread and fear of whether you’ll be able to meet the challenge and continue on the road to excellence.
How do you maintain your focus and motivation to continue a strategy that equals results and advancement?
Byron Spruell, central region and Chicago managing principal at Deloitte, knows more than a thing or two about career longevity and leadership. The University of Notre Dame alumnus—who played football for the Fighting Irish—has more than 20 years of professional services experience and has spent the past 17 of those moving up the ranks at Deloitte, having held roles including global managing director of financial advisory for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) and managing principal of Deloitte LLP, acting as chief of staff to DTTL CEO Barry Salzberg.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Spruell to talk about how young professionals can find success in strategizing their advancement.
BlackEnterprise.com: What leadership tips would you have for young professionals who are looking advance and transition into higher posts at their companies?
Byron Spruell: You have to be prepared. At our firm, you not only have support, but you also have a road map to follow in terms of how people expect you to perform at that next level. It’s best to have to have strategy—a game plan—for transitioning so that you can drive results. Be prepared and understand what’s expected of you.
Also, once you get in the position, put your leadership footprint on it early so that you can shape the game plan to your leadership style and move forward accordingly.
What keeps you self-motivated in order to continue advancing and achieving?
I think part of it is knowing to be true to myself. I’ve always been told by my parents to do the best with the abilities that I’ve been given, so that’s always stayed with me. I look forward to new challenges and meeting them. Also, being a black male role model, there’s a lot of expectation there. It also motivates me to know that I’m creating a path for others and following in the footsteps of those who created a path for me.
You have a background in athletics. How did that experience help fuel your current success in the business environment?
I was an offensive tackle at Notre Dame in the 1980s, and I got great coaching not only on the field but off as well. In a team environment, you know what you bring individually but you also recognize that success truly revolves around the team effort.
And that’s what I do even today, as a leader at Deloitte. I rely a lot on our partners and employees, as a team and community, to get things done for our clients, and that really translates well in terms of coachability for me to now coaching others so that we get the most successful performance from our team. My athletic experience was a great foundation for what I do today.
What advice do you have for young men today in terms of career advancement and leadership?
Be bold and dream big. Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. Also, be curious and eager to learn. Continue to mold and develop yourself toward your best. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone, and push yourself. Be coachable—willing to take on advice from mentors, sponsors and champions. You never know where those relationships and advice can take you.
And lastly, realize that accomplishing greatness, building your brand and nurturing relationships takes time. Oftentimes, with social media today, it almost seems like you can accomplish things instantly by putting up your profile, but recognize that it does take time to mature relationships.