The forum, one in a bimonthly series sponsored by the Emerging Executives Committee, allowed member company high performers to network and interact with an industry executive. Lange shared his thoughts and insights on leadership relating to his 30-year global career with Caterpillar.
Lange said that strongly executed M&As were possible while maintaining high performance and navigating a globally diverse workforce. He shared what he has learned along the way in nine key messages through relatable analogies the group would be sure to remember:
1. Dust Mites: Dust mites are essentially invisible until magnified thousands of times or when accumulated. In leadership, how many times do you not see what is going on around you? For example, what is being said at the water cooler or lunch breaks, etc. Leaders do not see or hear what is truly happening until its magnified thousands of times or accumulated, like dust mites.
Lange said dust mites are like leadership. With consistent cleaning schedule, dust mites are manageable. When not cleaned regularly, dust mites accumulate without organization or direction. When this happens in the workplace under a poor manager, no one reaches their goals because the leader had no input on clarity and the team is unorganized. Employees start to follow a random person who will not lead them in the right direction. With consistent and proactive leadership of nurturing the culture, staff development, providing direction, setting goals, monitoring activities and measuring results, the team is set up for success.
2. Autonomy and Mastery: Your team needs to feel they have autonomy and mastery. Lange continued by adding that the most valued attributes of a job for many people is autonomy and mastery. As a leader, you need to allow your employees to have the space and individuality to complete their work, then allow them to master their work.
3. Open and Fearless: A good leader wants to hear the ideas from open and fearless people and know that they are not right about everything. Listening to others and understand that you, as a leader, are not always right. At the end of the day, the job of you as a leader is to develop your team and allow them to grab onto your shirttails, so you can bring them to a better place as a team. If the team is not grabbing onto your shirttails, you are not being a good leader.
4. Making it happen: It’s not what we do, it is about what gets done. Keep score to learn. If many activities are completed, but projects are not moving forward, and a high performance-high culture is not driven, you are not making it happen. Measure performance with what you do and what you have done.
5. The Eagles’s Song “Wasted Time:” Sometimes to keep it together as a leader, just leave it alone. You need to make a smart judgement call to let things play out to see where the goal ends up.
6. Superman: Lead the team by seeing through things and around corners. As a leader, you need be intuitive and anticipate what is going to happen before it happens.
7. Columbo: Use common speak and common sense.
8. Tinker Bell: Sometimes you are given dust to deal with, whether you are a contributor or a leader. You need to be able to turn dust into gold.
9. Be a Crusader: The top most successful way Lange has achieved success is by getting on a crusade. Choose two or three top items you need to accomplish and be a crusader with them to take the team to a better place. You can achieve the goal by helping everyone on the team be right.