Secret Sauce: Mike Bowker Chief Operating Officer of Cable One

Welcome to “Secret Sauce Sunday.” I invite leaders who I admire to share real world leadership principles they have learned on their journey. 

The insights that follow are born in Mike Bowker’s experience. Mike is Chief Operating Officer of Cable One.

We know there’s no magic formula. But for Mike, the following ideas are contributing to the leader he is becoming.

*Secret Sauce posts are exempt from my 300 word limit.


The principles of leadership that I strive to emulate include:

#1. Show up to serve.   

I believe that showing up to serve is the prerequisite mindset that all effective leaders have. The role of the leader is not to be served, but to serve. Serve by:

  1. Listening.
  2. Guiding.
  3. Coaching.
  4. Mentoring.
  5. Curiosity. Ask people what they think. What’s working. What isn’t working? Ask what they would do?

#2. Do the right work.  

One of the most valuable – and liberating – leadership lessons I have learned is to stop trying to do it all. In my first leadership roles, I thought it was my job to be involved in and know everything that was going on.   

I was slowing people down and creating long unproductive hours for myself. I was actually hindering performance and burning myself out.  

Only do the work that only you can do. Delegate the rest.

As leaders it is our responsibility to help others develop and grow. Once I adopted the philosophy that I should only do the work that only I can do and to delegate the rest, things changed. People knew that I trusted them to take on more. Their engagement grew.

Extend trust. Allow others to expand and grow. They will respond.  

Delegation is trust.  

Delegation is growth.  

#3. Care about people.

You cannot lead if you do not care about people.   

No one follows a leader if they think that person doesn’t care about them. You can’t fake this. You either care about people or you don’t.   

Caring about people demonstrates that you understand leadership is a privilege, not an obligation.

#4. Connect with people.

  1. Go to people.
  2. Walk around.
  3. Smile.
  4. Ask people how they are and listen to the answer.

If you know the people you work with, really know their motivations and aspirations, which you can only learn by asking, a connection will grow. With a connection, people will find purpose in what they do.  

Connected people engage and feel that what they do matters. When you achieve that, positive results follow.

#5. Reward initiative. Celebrate it.   

When you have people that demonstrate initiative with the intention to make things better, celebrate them, which will ultimately replicate them.

Celebration produces replication.

Which leadership principle do you find most relevant to your current leadership challenges?

How might you put one of these leadership principles into practice?

Mike’s book recommendation: John Wooden’s, Wooden on Leadership. His wisdom and work ethic that come through the pages are worth reading more than once.

Meet Mike: GRM_5292 2

I have been leading teams for the past 19 years at Cable One.  My roles have included various sales management positions and multiple executive leadership roles.   Most recently in May of 2017 I became Chief Operating Officer.   My wife Kelly and I have been married for 29 years and counting!   We have two wonderful sons, Drew age 27 and Kam age 24.    My greatest joy is spending time at our cabin enjoying the Arizona outdoors.