4 keys to successful leadership

Interview with Benjamin West, Managing Member at Radial Development Group
June 7, 2022
Guest profile photo

When Ben West co-founded Radial Development Group, a northern Colorado software agency, he committed to care for a team, grow technology, and continually improve on both. Ben’s past experiences – managing a fast food restaurant, loading trucks for a big box store, and freelancing as a programmer – informed his approach to create a caring company culture. Under his guidance, Radial grew from a two-person team in 2016 to a 20-member-and-growing staff in 2022.

EXA Newsletter

Why reinvent the wheel?

Exaltitude newsletter is packed with advice for navigating your engineering career journey successfully. Sign up to stay tuned!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

What’s your advice to would-be entrepreneurs?

Here are 4 keys to successful leadership – Self-awareness, openness to change, asking for help, and building a network.

1. Self-awareness - When your ideas have to live in the real world and pull when you pull them away from your imagination, you can easily find this cognitive dissonance is the things that are preventing you from being successful. Self-awareness and that sort of reflective process is super important.

2. Openness to change - As a leader, it is important to understand when change is needed and not give yourself an excuse not to step up and change things for the better just because it wasn’t your fault. You have to be the change you want to see and what makes the difference. 

3. Asking for help - You can sometimes don’t know what you don’t know until you ask. Getting other people’s insights is essential to improving yourself and how you do things. 

4. Building a network - You should find a community of people solving similar problems as you. It’s great to have people you can ask questions and get support from when you face challenges.

Tell us more about how you develop self-awareness.

I noticed that many people have gotten to the 99th floor and can't find the door to the stairs to the 100th floor. 

My idea is to write a book that could help even a fry cook succeed. 

I think that the advice you give to a fry cook who just wants to make life a little bit better is probably the same advice you give someone who can't find the way to the 100th floor. Because it's always that one extra little thing that you're not doing.

It’s also taking the idea that most success is about leading others. Even a fry cook needs to lead people to get to the next level, but leading people have a requirement of leading yourself. So the book is also about self reflection and journaling and tooling that process. 

You have to actually look at your goals and determine whether you're taking the right steps to meet your goals, so then you can ask yourself if the steps you are taking are getting you closer to your goals or if you need to have different steps to achieve it. 

What are the challenges you face as a founder?

Consulting is one of the hardest sales jobs you can do because you’re not selling a defined product – it’s a suite of capabilities that can grow and change as needed. So having the right people has been really important. Having someone who's very relational, very capable of going out into the communities and saying, “Hey, how can Radial help you solve your problems?” has been a huge change in the past few years. Through finding the right talent, what has been our biggest challenge has now become our biggest strength. 

On the engineering side, I’ve had great success hiring bootcamp grads. 

What are the benefits of hiring bootcamps grads? 

We're hiring people with very little experience who have a diverse background. And we're looking at how we can help them become successful. Probably 70 or 80% of the work at any given company could be done by just about anybody. If you are willing to put in the work to train and mentor new engineers, they will become incredibly valuable contributors. We are comfortable taking the risk of hiring engineers with less experience because we are willing to train them.

If you're going to hire super talented, very experienced engineers, there would be other challenges like competition, high salaries, and retention. 

What inspired you to start Radial Development Group?

I had many non-tech-related jobs early on, but in 2012, I got my first full-time job in tech – an 

ad-tech company in Denver. Soon after, I met my co-founder, who was introduced to me by a friend. In 2015, we started bouncing ideas back and forth.  

We’ve been working together for over seven years now, and we have evolved through time. 

We want to leverage the best project management, a transparent development process, strategic decision-making, and a sustainable, holistic culture that places primary value on the work and the people who do the work.

The result is a firm capable of the highest level of production and embraces a strong employee-oriented culture.

Learn more about Benjamin's response to disruptions on his blog about rethinking interruptions.

Exaltitude newsletter is packed with advice for navigating your engineering career journey successfully. Sign up to stay tuned!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Read the latest...

Copyright @Exaltitude