President of The Breakers Palm Beach: Job Creation Key to Solving Problems

Leon Fooksman
Leadership Palm Beach County
March 22, 2015

What does Palm Beach County need the most? Competent, compassionate, courageous leaders to lead us to solutions sooner than later, according to Paul Leone, president of The Breakers Palm Beach.

We asked Mr. Leone to describe how he developed as a leader and how he built his leadership team at the prominent hotel.

1) What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time in Palm Beach County?

Paul Leone: Many new leaders have a tendency to start acting differently, sort of trying to be more “presidential”, forgetting that they got into the leadership position because of who they are, not necessarily who they may become.  Don't have a personality change, go on a “power trip” or develop a big, bad ego; and, remember, you’re never really as good as you think you are and you’re never really as bad, so just keep things in perspective! 

Tell your new team what you stand for, expressing your values, not your mission. They will eventually want to know your mission and what you plan to achieve but they really want to know what you stand for.

If you have the opportunity to build your team, surround yourself with talented people and don’t be afraid to hire people who are smarter or more talented than you.

Focus on others, on making other people successful – practice servant leadership!

2) What are you doing to make sure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

Paul Leone: I’m fortunate to have several really amazing long-time mentors who continue to teach and challenge me. 

I also continue to grow by emulating great role models - if you are not blessed to have great mentors, your next best alternative is to have great role models.  Observe how other highly respected, successful people write, speak, engage with others, and handle difficult situations.  In the case of the latter, you will learn more about a person from how they deal with adversity than how they handle success. Anyone can handle success with grace!

Finally, I continue to grow by being outward-looking so I can see what other successful people are doing.   Successful leaders sometimes get lulled to sleep because of their success and I think the old saying, “nothing recedes like success” is true – success can be a trap!

3) What’s the biggest issue facing Palm Beach County?

Paul Leone: The issues we are facing in Palm Beach County mirror the issues we are facing as a country. We need competent, compassionate, courageous leaders to lead us to solutions sooner than later.  Palm Beach County is an amazing place to live and work and yet there are far too many children graduating with an inadequate education or not graduating at all, far too many people out of work, and far too many people going hungry each day.

Unfortunately, politics and fear of failure continue to get in the way of progress. Leaders should listen to all constituents who have opinions and then make the best decision, the RIGHT decision, not necessarily the politically correct decision.  A great quote to this effect: "one person with courage is a majority". 

4) What can the leadership community do to address that issue?

Paul Leone: Job creation is the key to solving the education and hunger problems. Job creation is about a business-friendly environment with less regulation and lower taxes. Palm Beach County is already in a better position than most but we can and should do more to reduce regulations and taxes.  This is one of the greatest places to live in the world so companies and people want to be here. 

The Breakers Palm Beach is one of Leadership Palm Beach County’s 2014-2015 Community Partners. 

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