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Success Secrets of 9 Top Leaders

(page 6 of 10)

Walter Dods

 
Walter Dods, chairman of the board for First Hawaiian Bank, built a financial legacy around one simple word: “Yes.”

It not only demonstrates First Hawaiian’s promise to customer service, but also happens to be his personal mantra for success.

“Every job I’ve ever had has been over my head,” Dods concedes. “But that never stopped me. You have to have a can-do attitude, be willing to work harder than anyone else and do the jobs that nobody else wants in order to stand out.”

But the real secret to becoming a leader, he says, is developing effective communication skills.

No matter what stage of his life — whether he was bagging groceries as a teen or overseeing multi-billion-dollar mergers — Dods says he has always had a knack for making others feel comfortable around him.

“I’m a Portagee, so communication is in my DNA,” he jokes. “Although for us, sometimes we have to un-learn some of our habits!”

It’s Dods’ ability to not take himself too seriously and command attention, while always respecting others that demonstrates the difference between a leader and a boss. Being able to recognize talent, being a good listener and having vision are equally important, he adds. “And no matter what, you have to keep your word. Integrity is everything.”

As the oldest of seven children, Dods learned the value of hard work early on. He had no real goals beyond graduating high school, other than earning enough money to gas up his hot rod. However, after pushing a mail cart around for a few months, he decided to take night classes at the University of Hawaii. By the time Dods received his bachelor’s in business industrial relations 10 years later, he was already a vice president at First Hawaiian. He was eventually promoted to CEO in 1989, a position he held until 2004.

This month marks Dods’ 40th anniversary with First Hawaiian Bank, which has been ranked No. 1 on Hawaii Business’ list of Top 250 Hawaii companies for the past five years, with 2007 revenues of more than $4 billion.

– SE

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Dec 30, 2008 09:58 am
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