page title icon Transformative Influence: How to Build Trust and Lead Others in Today’s Climates of Change

Leadership is not about you, it’s about the influence you can have on other people.

The goal of transformative influence is always to make other people better. However, there is a void in trust in the marketplace today – people no longer trust each other. Employees don’t trust management, employees don’t trust the board, and investors don’t trust the employees and the board. As a result, transformation is almost impossible.

As a leader, if you want to build trust, you need to understand that it’s not about you. It’s about the influence you have on other people. It’s all about trying to make other people better.

If you can make them better, you’ll be surprised to see that they will actually perform for you.

In this episode, Walt Rakowich shares his experience on transformative influence and the steps you can take to transform your team and make your organization better.

Walt Rakowich can trace his approach to leadership to his roots as the son of working-class parents in Pittsburgh, PA. His parents were hardworking, unassuming children of first-generation immigrants. 

As a kid Walt could be found playing the trumpet, drums, guitar, or baseball.

Neither of his parents had a college degree, but they taught him and his two sisters the value of things like working hard, treating people with respect, acting with integrity, and serving the greater good. The values his parents taught him were tested as he made his way through college at Penn State and began working in accounting and then real estate, becoming CEO of Prologis in 2008.  

Walt received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He was a senior audit and tax consultant for Price Waterhouse in Pittsburgh and spent nine years as a partner and principal with real estate provider Trammell Crow Company in Los Angeles. He joined Prologis as a consultant in 1993 and would spend the bulk of his career there in various roles before becoming chief operating officer before departing at the beginning of 2008. 

He returned later that year as CEO when the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. He and his team orchestrated a turnaround that breathed new life into the company’s balance sheet and its culture. Then he led the company through a successful merger before stepping away in 2012. 

After retirement, Walt began some soul-searching about how he could make a difference in the lives of others during the next phase of his life. Over the years, with the help of formal and informal training and the example modeled by his parents, he began to codify his ideas about faith, values, and leadership, creating the deep footings that proved invaluable during his tumultuous tenure as CEO. 

Moved by the challenges he saw emerging leaders facing, and by the idea that what he’d learned about leadership might help them rise to meet those challenges in some meaningful way, he wrote Transfluence: How to Lead with Transformative Influence in Today’s Climates of Change.

Walt believes in the transformational influence that organizations can have on their employees, customers, suppliers and communities. As such, he serves on the boards of several companies, including Host Hotels & Resorts, Iron Mountain, Ventas, Inc., and Gender Fair. 

Walt also serves on the board of trustees of his alma mater, Penn State University, and on the boards of inner-city youth organizations such as Colorado UpLift/Elevate USA, ACE Scholarships, and PIVOT Denver.

In his free time, Walt enjoys golfing, traveling, mentoring youth and participating in a wide range of community service initiatives. He and his wife Sue have two adult children and reside in Colorado.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @WaltRakowich get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“You learn the most in crucible moments.” – Click to Tweet

“The essence of great leadership is trust. If you can build trust in the organization, you’ve got everything.” – Click to Tweet

“If people see that you want to serve them, that you want to invest time in them, ultimately, you’ll build trust in the organization.” – Click to Tweet

“Too many leaders are focused on the destiny. The real objective is more about the journey – the difference you make in the lives of other people.” – Click to Tweet

“It’s not about you.” – Click to Tweet

“Leaders don’t always have to have the answers. Sometimes, there’s power in vulnerability.” – Click to Tweet

Advice for others

Focus on integrity – not just on what you say but also on what you do.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

My own pride and fear.

Best Leadership Advice

Take the focus off of yourself and put it on others.

Secret to Success

Brutal transparency with everybody around me.

Best Tools

Humility, Honesty, and Humanness

Recommended Reading

Transfluence: How to Lead with Transformative Influence in Today’s Climates of Change

Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance

Links and Resources

Walt’s website: 

Walt’s Twitter: 

Walt’s LinkedIn: 

Fast Leader Show on YouTube: 

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Fast Leader Show on LinkedIn:  

Check out other episodes on trust: 

Check out other episodes on transformational leadership:

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