Featured Partner: Brian Alvo of NextGen Center

Written by Richelle Stewart on April 28, 2020

Meet Brian Alvo, Founder of NextGen Center: a community that fosters and empowers the next generation of leaders. Read his story, his thoughts on what makes an effective leader, and how you can practice the way you lead today.

Brian’s story kicks into gear after ten years working in a number of different industries, including the federal government, non-profit, a Fortune 500 company, and a tech startup. He saw consistent themes shine through:  
– The workplace has its fair share of dysfunction, which means people may not be as fulfilled as they could or want to be.
– Getting things done in the workplace is harder than it needs to be.

Brian was a competitive tennis player through college, and he coached as well. But if he learned anything during his coaching days, it was this: Being a great tennis player does not necessarily make you a great coach. He saw a parallel in the workplace: Being an effective, individual contributor does not necessarily make you an effective leader.

Brian found a local business coaching program at NC State University. He enrolled with the mindset that even if he didn’t pursue coaching professionally, the skill sets would be valuable. 

Above all and on a personal note, Brian is a husband and father of two little boys.

Tell us more about Next-Gen Center and what it offers:
NextGen Center is a leadership community that fosters growth, development, and transformational awareness for the next generation of leaders, so that they are better prepared to navigate their life-long personal and professional journeys as well as the journeys of those whom they touch.

In practice, many companies and teams face significant challenges as they grow, and NextGen Center empowers these emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to help them grow effectively. We do so by providing intensive training, workshops, coaching and community. All with a lens of impact and transformation for our participants.

At NextGen Center, we believe…
– There is no cookie-cutter manual for success.
– Professional and leadership development is personal.
– Transitions from contributor to leader are often harder than they need to be.
– Emerging leaders want development opportunities and often look to their organizations to provide it.
– Organizations believe in supporting and investing in future leaders, but may not prioritize it.

In your opinion what makes an effective leader?
Effective leaders tap into the best of their abilities and potential to bring the best out of the abilities and potential of others, especially those who follow them. 

In practice, effective leaders possess a strong sense of responsibility to make a positive impact on others and the world. They keep the best interests of their people, their teams, and their organizations front and center, and ultimately are effective in building trust. They have a high level of emotional intelligence, a clear understanding of what they stand for, and demonstrate behaviors that effectively influence and model the way for others. They are growth-oriented and continually make change to help themselves, their teams, their clients, and their organizations maximize potential. 

For freelancers and single member business owners how can they lead when they don’t have a typical staff?
Leadership is not limited to overseeing or being on a formal team. Yes, it includes other people, but that can come in many forms. Think about all of the constituencies each of us has: peers, advisors, clients, community, family, friends. You have to show up for these people, in various capacities and contexts. There is an opportunity to lead within each of them.

As a freelancer, you also have to lead yourself. Understanding who you are, how you operate, and how the behaviors you exhibit affect and influence others. 

What are three quick tactics we can put into effect immediately to practice the way we lead?
One question. Before every scheduled interaction you have (team, clients, 1-on-1s), ask yourself this: What does success look like for this interaction? (What is the goal?)
One connection. Reach out to one person you work with or who is part of your sphere every day. Initiate that connection. We’re all experiencing physical distancing right now, but that doesn’t mean we have to be socially distant. And freelancers can be isolated in their work. Connection is a fundamental, human need.
One appreciation. Gratitude is a mindset. Make one expression of thanks to someone or to yourself every day.  

What is some advice you would give for people who are trying to manage their career / freelance business in uncertain times?
Take care of YOU and establish a routine. Structure each day similarly. The time you wake/go to bed. Exercise. Eat right. That doesn’t mean you should be overly rigid, but having a routine will remove distractions and help you focus on the work that matters most. 
Work ON your business in addition to IN your business. Dedicate time for deeper work and big-picture thinking. This will serve as a constant reminder of what you’re working towards, and why you have chosen to freelance in the first place.
Keep your values front and center, and live into them. Act in alignment with what’s important to you. This includes how you respond to situations, the way you treat yourself and your clients, and how you approach and make decisions.
Experiment. Try new things. Whether it’s an idea you’ve delayed as you wait for the “right time”, or tackling projects that have been backlogged on the Trello Board.  

Make sure to Sign Up for our Webinar happening on May 12th, 2020 at 1pm EST with Brian “Leading Yourself and Your Business Through Uncertain Times” here!