The relationship between father and son is as old as humanity itself. Traditions, history, life experiences and leadership qualities have been passed from father to son for generations. Some have taken the wisdom of their fathers willfully—others by force—and the relationship is not always an easy one. Michael Mayo understands that a positive relationship with a father figure is not always the norm, and he believes so strongly in his father’s philosophy on leadership that he wants to share it with everyone.
Mike approached his father, Bill Mayo, in February of 2008, after his retirement from Caterpillar. “I wanted people to hear his vision on leadership and how it is more about the individual and authentic beliefs—about how everybody really is a leader,” said Mike. After seven months, the father accepted his son’s offer, and Fullsail Leadership was afloat.
Fullsail Leadership has a message for everyone, and they get that message out through team leadership training, individual and team coaching, and public seminars. Its message revolves around understanding your beliefs, where they come from and how they define you. “It is about tapping into people’s beliefs and allowing them to reach their full potential through servant and authentic leadership,” explained Mike. “You use your life experiences to determine how you would like to serve others, or how you would like to approach others in a certain environment,” he added. “It can be at home with your family or leading in an organization with 20,000 people; it doesn’t really matter.”
It was Bill’s life experiences and how they influenced his leadership philosophy that inspired Mike to create a business revolving around his father’s ideas. “He is a naval academy officer and has nearly 30 years of experience as a Fortune 50 executive. He rose to high levels of leadership based upon authenticity, being himself and service—primarily service to others,” said Mike of his father.
Fittingly, Mike also has a background in leadership and service to others. He has worked for one of the most-respected symphony orchestras in the world—the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—and for one of the largest global technology and strategy consulting firms in the Washington, D.C. area. He is currently employed at Caterpillar in a leadership role and has taught visual arts to underprivileged kids—and he is not yet even 30 years old.
Mike and his father have similar but varied backgrounds, and in the future, they hope to more “fully bake” Mike’s own leadership philosophies so that he too may express his ideas and beliefs based on his unique life experiences. “Right now, the organization is largely based on my father’s very unique and successful philosophy on leadership. But because we are so focused on authenticity, I want to make sure that we are really allowing our other partners…to find their own authentic voices,” said Mike.
The Fullsail team currently consists of the father-and-son duo and Jean Moore, another member of the team—but not a family member—and an HR professional and 6 Sigma Black Belt. That team may grow in the future with the addition of Mike’s brother, Robert, who has been a chef and musician, was recently accepted to Eureka College’s Leadership Development Program, and has expressed an interest in joining his family’s business. They do not want to stop with just two generations, however. “It will be years before any of our kids join, but that would be a dream come true for us,” added Mike.
For now, the business remains a father-and-son partnership to teach others about authentic leadership and service to others. “Robert Frost had it right—the path less traveled has always made the difference. The result may not be what you expected, but the learning that takes place is invaluable. In fact, I have often found that expectations are exceeded. The path less traveled takes courage and vulnerability, and similar to sailing with your sails full, you are vulnerable to the elements of wind and sea, but this is also when you are the most powerful. We’re not interested in telling you how to lead, we’re interested in inspiring courageous and genuine introspection of the individual leader—encouraging you to tap into what it is that makes you tick in your effort to support and serve,” Mike explained. So, as father and son, Fullsail Leadership is full steam ahead to teach and inspire authentic leadership and service to others. iBi