The Whitmore file Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2007

Born: King of Prussia, Pa.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, business, Philadelphia University

History: President and CEO of AlliedBarton Security Services since 2003; named chairman in 2006

What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?

If you feel something is right or wrong in your gut, and your gut is your experience and knowhow, I believe you have to act with your gut. I think procrastination is the ruination of companies. Someone once had a saying, ‘Don’t waste your time looking for the right thing. Do something.’ Do not sit and let something fester. Act on it.

What traits or skills are essential for a business leader?

Curiosity is clearly the No. 1 trait I really look for, where you are constantly searching for a better way of doing things. Curious leaders observe a lot, read a lot of books, they attend sessions, look for mentors, get involved in community events.

Second, I think, is everything that goes into a high emotional IQ. What we look for when we’re testing people is who has a high emotional IQ. All the words like empathy, concern, a willingness to give of themselves, all fall under that emotional IQ.

Those are the two things in leaders I find the most important. There are tons of very smart people out there. You have to find people who have high emotional IQs.

What are several universal truths you’ve learned about leading a business?

One is to clearly lead by your values. When people shortchange and take shortcuts, I think that is a fundamental truth that you have to live by the values you believe in. Don’t do anything to discount that because, as a leader, it becomes really evident with people. Everybody has a course and a mission in life, beliefs, and you have to follow that. If your gut tells you it’s not right to do something, don’t do it. Fundamentally, it sounds very basic to use the word ‘gut,’ but I think seasoned leaders know in their gut the right moves and wrong moves.

Another one is to really pay attention to the details. Whether it’s in your day-to-day business, in an acquisition and your doing your due diligence process, you really have to pay attention to details.

A third is you have to empower people. If you’re going to grow an organization, you have to be able to bring people in you think are competent, train and develop them, and give them the freedom to act.

What is your definition of success?

That we grow this business, and that it benefits the employees, customers and shareholders. If we get that win-win-win, that’s my definition of success. Nobody in any company is perfect. We certainly don’t do everything right. But I think that if you have a company where your employees, customers and shareholders believe you are acting in their mutual best interest, you are successful..