PCB007 Magazine

PCB-Oct2016

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50 The PCB Magazine • October 2016 is the respect that gets earned. I also believe that great leadership comes from having been there and done the work. Lesson Two: A Manager is not a Leader While researching my latest book, Notori- ous: Business Lessons from History's Most Ruth- less Leaders, I was struck by a quote from Son- ny Barger. Sonny has been the leader of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club for the past 50 years, and Sonny said, "A great leader knows he doesn't have all the answers." This was a particular lesson that took me quite a few years to learn. I had been fortunate enough to have gained a significant amount of techni - cal skill very early in my career, and this was probably part of the reason I had developed a very autocratic management style. My way, or the highway; I thought I did have all the answers. I learned my second lesson while working in a PCB shop in the Midwest, running the me- chanical processes (drilling, routing and pro- gramming). I'll never forget my department lead—a woman named Ruby, who was a tough- as-nails gal that had worked there for 25 years and happened to be one of the best drillers I had ever worked with. I don't remember the specifics, but I had given Ruby a list of a num- ber of jobs that needed to get done one day, and when I came back later to check on them, not a single one had been completed. When ques- tioning Ruby, she told me some unexpected hot jobs had come into the department and she re- prioritized my list. Of course she was right, but my ego felt my authority was being questioned, and I said, "Ruby, you just need to learn to follow direc- tions." Ruby looked me straight in the eye and said "Steve, maybe you need to listen to us more often." It didn't sink in at the time, and I think my reply was, "Yeah, yeah, whatever, just fol- low my list." But years later Ruby's words would play a major role in my development. An au- tocratic style can work in the short-term, with direct reports, but not so much as I moved up in management and needed to get the coop- eration of others outside my control. I knew I needed to make changes, but really didn't know which ones or how. You see, I had become a good manager, but was nowhere near being a leader. Lesson Three: My Ah-Ha Moment Years later I was interviewing for an execu- tive position with another PCB shop, and the CEO of the mothership would be performing the interview, as this position reported directly to him. This was an impressive businessman; he held a PhD and an MBA, and he was the leader of one of the largest multi-divisional companies in Wisconsin. As I was guided into his impressively large office for introductions, I stuck my hand out and said, "I truly appreciate this opportunity Dr. Sterner, I am…", and he stopped me right there and said "Steve, please call me Frank. Titles don't mean a whole lot around here, results do." I sat down in front of his massive desk, and he said, "Why don't we go over here and chat?" and led me over to a small, round table with two chairs, and we talk - ed for an hour. I left that meeting reflecting on the fact that this important businessman took the time to make sure I knew he valued my time as much as his, and that at least for that hour, we were equals (even though we clearly weren't). Frank's values of empowerment, teamwork, and mutual respect permeated that company, and as Ruby's words came back to me, became the beginning of my transition from manager to leader. As my fellow author and friend War- ren Bennis once said, "A manager does things right, a leader does the right thing." I recently went through a yearlong training program with the world's foremost leadership experts, the John Maxwell Team. The lessons learned were far too many to cover in even a year's worth of articles, but the overriding les- son I learned is that the more you learn, the more you find out how much you don't know. The journey continues… PCB Steve Williams is the president of The Right Approach Consulting LLC. To read past columns, or to contact Williams, click here. MY LEADERSHIP JOURNEY

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