[Post by Chuck Krugh, September 16, 2022]
Effective leaders influence people to do things that you need done—the key word is influencing! How do effective leaders influence others?
People are influenced by leaders who show passion for what their team does. Our mission is building ships for the Navy—ships that defend our country. Every leader here should be passionate about this and about their role in building these sophisticated warships. We produce a truly awesome product.
People are also influenced by leaders who have a vision in their area of responsibility. They have a goal for their team and know what it is going to take to get their team there. They help the team understand how their role is part of a greater whole, whether that’s error-free fabrication, getting a ship ready for sea trials or keeping our work environment safe and clean.
Leaders who communicate through their actions also influence others. Words of action will never be as influential as the actions themselves. These leaders get things done rather than just talk about getting things done.
Effective leaders have a “your problem is my problem” mentality. They take on problems to help their team. When a teammate is in trouble, they close ranks and help them out. Leaders who prioritize their teams over themselves show support and dedication. This is influential as well. People want to follow leaders who value their teams.
Leadership isn’t only measured by communication and problem-solving skills. Leaders are also judged on the performance of their teams.
Good leaders make sure their team hits its targets. Whether safety, quality, delivery or efficiency, an effective leader sets ambitious but achievable goals, motivates the team to hit them and keeps members on task and focused on meeting them.
Sometimes, keeping the team on target requires problem solving or asking for help from their team. Other times, it requires listening to an idea from a member of the team to try something new and make improvements in the process. A good leader is always on the lookout for ways to improve safety and efficiency for the team.
When a leader is effective and the team hits their targets, I call this “making it happen.” When I am out on the deckplates, I am looking for the people who make it happen. I’m not just talking about managers and supervisors.
Every one of us is a leader in some way here at BIW. You may be a leader in your trade, or because you have developed a particular expertise in some aspect of our very complicated work. Our more experienced workers are all leaders for newer employees. And all of us, whether more seasoned or just starting out, can demonstrate leadership by being a good communicator, by supporting their team, by making sure their team uses its time productively, by continuously improving and by solving problems.
I know every one of us at BIW can make it happen.
President, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works
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