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Contributed photogaphy / Pam Ladd

Pam Ladd, the CEO of the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, will retire in August after seven years with the non-profit human services agency. During her career, she served as manager of custodial services at Tennessee Valley Authority and as assistant vice president of support services at Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co. She then founded and operated Custom Custodial Inc., a successful industrial cleaning service. She also is a retired real estate agent with the local firm Real Estate Partners, and served as Chattanooga City Council representative for District 3.

What books have you read and recommended to others that influence your leadership style and how you've developed your career?

Decades ago, as a new manager, I was eager to become a great leader and grow my managerial skills. That led to voracious reading of every management book I could find. The treasure that had a profound impact on me and provoked different thought on the philosophy and approach to management was "The Managerial Grid" by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, developed in the early 1960s. Their theory revolves around the measuring and plotting on an axis, two dimensions of management responsibility. The dimensions measured the manager's concern for 1) people and 2) production. The balance of these two variables in the manager's attitudes and decisions defined their style.

My intrigue was that management behavior should be adjusted to align with a variety of factors such as: environment, group skills and maturity, organizational needs for production, and satisfaction of employees, to name a few. The appropriateness of a leadership style should follow the circumstances of the group and the importance of production in real time. The consideration of people with the importance of performance was new for me.

The strategy for meeting production goals while developing and involving people changed my entire outlook on how to best manage people. The book goes into detail on when and how to apply numerous leadership styles while focusing on group needs. This educated me greatly in my conflict of treating people fairly while obtaining work objectives. After years of management, I still refer to this book for guidance.

What is next on your to-read list?

As a lover of inspirational biography, I will choose my next book from a reading list of Black History Month recommendations. It most likely will be Michelle Obama's book "Becoming." This book has been on my desired reading list, and reflection on Black History Month makes this a timely pick.

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