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Bill Mains: Self Awareness and Genuine Connection tools for Authentic Leadership

Bill is the Director for Assessment and Special Projects in the Leavey School of Business and Director for Member Development in the Center for Conscientious Leadership. He previously served as Director for Sustainability and Leadership with his journey beginning as Assistant Director for the Center of Student Involvement. Since then his impact extends to roles as a leadership lecturer and other student centered positions at the University of the Pacific, Loyola Marymount, and SJSU. He’s an award winning instructor and coach with an amazing career and lots of great knowledge to share.

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Selected Interview Highlights

Arturo: Going off of Barry Posner’s 5 practices of Exemplary Leadership, “effective leaders are to have an understanding of their own values”. We would love to hear about your values?

Bill: I'd have to talk a little bit first about their origins. My mom was a homemaker, formerly a teacher and my dad was a pastor in the Lutheran church. From early on, I remember a great sense of responsibility and fidelity to one's family, how to support one's family, how to encourage family bonds, and also challenge in an appropriate way. Another is a sense of responsibility to make things better than when you found them, it's a sense that you're entrusted with a certain amount of time, different people and different programs, and there's a responsibility that goes along with trying to improve all those things.Then maybe the third, fourth, and fifth that come from my own faith as a Christian, are faith, hope, and love.


Armando: We know you’re grounded in your wife and kids. What are the three most important lessons you want your kids to know before leaving the nest.


Bill: I want my kids to have this understanding of themselves as having the power and ability to create environments that are not just conducive to their own flourishing but to others in their community. Another lesson is to understand that they are loved even when the world is a place that may not feel like it's loving them back but it’s there if they create it. And back to my values, to try to make things better than how they found it. 


Arturo: In the previous interview, you mentioned a quote from your parents, “be like a duck, smooth on the surface but underneath, scurrying like crazy”. What tactics do you recommend to students who are “scurrying like crazy” maybe without direction.

Bill: I’d like to use a new metaphor. “To see their life as a mountain with no top”. What I mean by that, is that life can be really exciting and fun if you focus more on the process and become less focused on specific outcomes. If there’s that hope and faith that things will turn out the way they're supposed to be. It's a lot of fun to be able to focus on what you're doing at the moment and what you can do today to make yourself the best possible version and what you can do tomorrow to continue that growth. Along with that metaphor is the idea that we need to rest, stop, and look around at what you've accomplished so far. See who's accompanying you on that climb and take a look at the beautiful scenery from different vantage points in life. Maybe look up the mountain and see which routes make the most sense to move forward to the next ledge.

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