Find your passion in life, and then make it work with your career.
From a very young age, I knew I had a passion for fixing things and particularly for aviation. I started out by getting an airframe and power plant license and worked on aircrafts. But after many years I realized I no longer wanted to know how, I wanted to know why. And that’s where my passion for fixing things came in. I left aviation to pursue my MBA and ended up in the trucking industry at Rockwell International. There, I received three promotions in three years because I was able to apply my ability to fix problems within the company.
Surround yourself with people who have vision.
By empowering those around me with the tools they needed to both see and execute their vision, I have been able to accomplish many things. At my last company, some members of my team told me that they had never before been asked what training they would be seeking next. So I worked with each of them to get the training they needed to accomplish their goals. By embracing the servant-leader approach, I was able to empower these individuals, and they got to relish in their well-deserved glory.
Ask the right questions, and encourage your team to do the same.
If you’re not sure why a company is doing something in a certain way, ask why. If the only reason that it hasn’t been changed is because of budget, or because no one knows how to fix it, then find a way to give people the tools they need to fix it. Find a person on your team who can work with those tools, and they will work with you. Often times, they will find a faster, cheaper, or easier way to do it. Then, give them credit for their achievement.
Think comprehensively about strategy.
One of my bosses told me “There’s no such thing as an IT project.” IT should always be empowering a company to execute its business strategy. We should constantly be trying to find ways to reduce costs, make systems work better, or stay on top of the latest technologies. Every business’s goal is to be the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The best way to do that is to find the 700-pound gorillas and see what you can do better than them.
Expose your team to the way different organizations do things.
Many years ago, I sent members of my staff to a conference where one of them ended up networking with the CIO of Greenpeace and the CTO of the Saudi Arabian military. By talking to people like this, they were able to see different ways of doing things and get a view of how other organizations operated. The result of that realization is that my former lead developer is now CTO of a multimillion dollar
organization. To continue that tradition, I have hired one of the top IT consulting firms in the world for Euramax, and many of my team members are working with them to analyze technology and see how they do things. This has helped spur a lot of questions about why we operate as we do, which often leads to better solutions.
Life is short.
I’m a cancer survivor, so I feel I have a different perspective. I like to try to help people find themselves by exposing them to as many situations as possible. Then they can achieve the most for themselves and for the organization they are serving.