Although I was 14 months older than my sister, when we were kids, she was the boss, and I did whatever she said. When I was seven, she said, “You need a haircut” and proceeded to give me one. As a child, I had hair that was a bit longer, so you can imagine what the haircut looked like, with plugs all over my head. But I let her do it, because she was the boss!
As a child, John Granby always let his little sister be the boss, but now he’s in that role as president of the Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky region for Verizon Wireless. That means that Granby is responsible for directing all sales, marketing, operations, financial performance, and customer service in those three states. He supports more than 2,000 employees, and the team he leads won a third of all the performance awards that were given out at a recent, 15-state area Verizon summit. That makes Granby proud and aligns with his leadership vision.
“The true foundation of leadership is not power,” he explains, “but authority — which is built upon relationships, love, service, and sacrifice. At work, at home, and in my community, this is something I strive for every day. I believe that, as a leader, you are only as strong as the team you direct, so I am dedicated to serving my team and working to remove obstacles that could impede their success, while providing positive direction and reinforcement.”
Before becoming a telecom-industry executive, Granby was a professional athlete for a successful NFL team. Then he was approached by a less- successful team and had to choose between staying with a winning franchise or joining a less-successful one that offered a better chance for him to make a bigger positive impact. “I chose to take the leap,” says Granby, “and my new team went on to achieve great things.” Granby often tells that story when mentoring others, encouraging them to take risks that offer the possibility for a positive outcome.
He is also a passionate champion of inclusivity, empowerment, and accountability supported through recognition.
“My door is never closed, and I believe in equality for all of my team members,” says Granby. “Anyone, at any time, can achieve great things. I view challenges as nothing more than veiled opportunities to reach outside of your comfort zone and try new approaches. That’s why I love when my team members defy conventional wisdom. It combats complacency and keeps us one step ahead of our competitors.”
A recent charitable community project of Granby’s involved Cornerstone Schools — a privately operated Detroit system dedicated to excellent Pre-K through high school education that includes positive mentoring. Granby was instrumental in securing a $50,000 grant from Verizon for the organization, plus 60 tablet computers for students and teachers to use.
“John’s commitment and values aren’t evident only in the workplace,” says Magda Yrizarry, Vice President and Chief Talent and Diversity Officer for Verizon and Granby’s nominator for the Eagle Award. “He is also committed to building a lasting impression on the communities we serve.”
Granby says that he begins each day knowing that he is going to be of service to someone. “Your legacy is not what you accomplish as an individual,” Granby says, “but, rather, it is the lasting impression you make on other people’s lives.”
Parenthood is the most important example of legacy building in Granby’s experience. As a parent, he is devoted to shaping the lives of others — with the hope and goal that his children’s lives will benefit humankind.
CareerFOCUS Magazine and the National Eagle Leadership Institute® salute 2012 Eagle Award winner John Granby