Two years after my graduation, I had the opportunity to lead over 100 employees in a company in the Northeast of Brazil whose client was one of the biggest aluminium companies in the world. The role required advise and promote good practices and safety regulations among employees. As a result of that, it could boost the company’s reputation or put us in the end of the queue for best projects bid if the team didn’t meet the specifications.
The most challenging part was to understand what I needed to do in order to meet the requirements and to figure out how I would do that. I had the desire to deliver in a such a way that the requirements would look more than completed, in other words I want to do more than was asked for.
By now, I have learned that what I did there was right, I worked with the tools I had at hand. At that time I looked around to see if there was anyone with experience who could helped me. Luckily, the Managing Director was one. From that point I asked him how far the company have reached the health and safety requirements at the last opportunity and then I start to build the strategy to overcome what the company had done. I started work on the problems which, believe or not, was mainly in the communication with the team and also the tight budget.
But don’t you think it was all simple, straight forward and easy to handle, but I was excited and nervous at the same time, I even started a two weeks night course about communication and presentation skills to do my best dealing with the communication issue, even because I was quite shy when talking to people. Just to mention, I have paid the course on my own, although it wasn’t very expensive anyway.
I was in a construction sector and the workforce in this sector were by nature a bit inflexible to accept safety procedures because they couldn’t see any danger in doing the job and they saw safety as nonsense. To solve this problem I had to be proactive and put them back to classroom and made a demonstration using slideshow with images of some accidents in construction sites and also invited a guest from a local institute (with no costs) to talk more about it. The guest served as good reference and as great tool to give the team confidence and awareness.
Another requirement that was paramount for the success of the project was the number of Near Miss reported (Near Miss is potential hazard or incident that was not result in any injury) that was also one point in which our company always had low report numbers. Therefore another slideshow section showing how to do that was necessary. Adding to that I managed to convince the managing director to give a small part of the budget to reward exceeding numbers of those reports.
All the process took five months and we end up being the most successful company among all the outsourced companies to achieve the “gold standard” and with the highest number of near misses plus praised final product from our client. Of course it was merit of all workers, absolutely everybody in the company was involved, even other departments such as Purchasing, Contracts, HR and IT. I strongly believe that all successful companies reach that level because the core values and the targets of the company are built in all departments.
In summary, a small list of lessons learned can be made from my history. However like Fuchan Yuan said all the lessons start from 3 principles for a good leadership: humbleness, transparency and courage. I would say the result of success in leadership in this way:
1. Organize your ideas: Write them down so you will increase your ability to see all details needed.
2. Set and write definite goals: Sometimes the goals are dictated to you but you can have your own goal if it will be better than what is asked for. Plus when you set definite goal you have a clear direction of where you want to go. Just be aware if you deviate from your goal, focus and take corrective actions, it happens more often than you think.
3. Admit you don’t know something: Not admitting mistakes is a sense of pride and superiority which is not very good feeling for a leader. Find the answers even if you have to ask someone inside the company, that’s why they are called colleagues, teammate, etc.
4. Be humble: Talk to everyone in the company, some people are afraid to talk to the Director but don’t need to be afraid because in fact they are happy to see you approach them, if not, they afraid of you because they see you as competitor and therefore they are narrow mind. And don’t forget the base of the hierarchy structure like the cleaning department, they are also good people and can surprise you with suggestions with you take a short chat or a coffee with them.
5. Focus on your team: To be a great leader honor and praise your team, there is not need to praise yourself, it will happen automatically.
6. Have a easy-going attitude: Be calm and cool, an everyday smile cost nothing and does miracles, if you are not like does who smile much, first try more, than change some habits such as have a good breakfast and sleep your desired amount of hours to get good mood. It is not only nice to have it, it is necessary and your health will be thankful.
7. Do you very best: Deliver more than you are paying for, if you do that regardless your position you will achieve success somehow. Its an universal law.
That is one experience that I have the pleasure to deal with in my life, at the time I didn’t realize the importance of it and how much it would influence my future decisions especially after the outcome.
Furthermore, I have found experiences in life good, however using other learning process are good too. I recommend reading books and watch videos, some of those I like to keep in touch are Robin Sharma, Brian Trace, Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Karren Brady and many others.