Leading with passion

As president and CEO of
Karlsberger, Mitch Levitt knows he can’t go it alone, so
he makes sure he involves his
150 employees in the decision-making process.

Levitt — who joined
Karlsberger in 1979 and took
over his current positions in
October —spends time with
employees listening to their
opinions and ideas before he
ultimately makes the best decisions for the architecture firm,
which focuses on the health
care industry.

As leader of Karlsberger, which
posted fiscal 2007 revenue of
$34.2 million, Levitt also has to
live the company’s vision and
clearly communicate it to his
employees so that they understand it and live it each day, as
well. And you have to be excited
about that vision, Levitt says,
just as you once got excited for
Christmas or summer break
from school.

Smart Business spoke with
Levitt about how to create that
passion and excitement for your
vision and how to get everyone
to buy in to it.

Make the vision exciting. The
vision has to have that surge
of energy and excitement that
people can get behind. It’s that
kind of excitement and feeling
you get that this is the kind of
place I want to be at and the
passion that I want to be a
part of.

If it’s not exciting, why set
out on the journey in the first
place? And if it’s not something you can get behind,
you’re not going to want to get
up in the morning and come to
work. It has to be attainable. It
should be a stretch, but it
should be attainable.

I don’t believe you can have a
vision that’s too far-reaching.
You have to have a vision that’s
based in reality. It’s attainable,
it’s there, but do you ever feel
like you can get there?

No, because you should
always be pushing to do it better the next time. The point of
the vision is so you don’t
become stagnant or rest on
your laurels. I’ve got a big
whiteboard here for our message and written on it is, ‘Don’t
do what clients want, do
something better.’

Don’t settle for what you’re
doing now and what you’ve
done in the past. Try to do the
next thing better than what
you’ve done before. It’s pushing yourself and your colleagues to be better.

Constantly repeat the vision. You
have to be able to articulate
your vision. My job is to build
upon the image of the firm and
help transform us to reach that
vision and those goals.

A big part of that is listening to
what people have to say, while
at the same time constantly and
passionately repeating what the
vision is. Any employee in any
organization will follow and buy in to that vision as long as you
provide that certain level of

It’s being consistent, not
wavering, and letting people
see the passion and drive to
reach that vision. A lot of people, while they might not be
able to repeat our vision or
mission word for word, can
tell us our core values.