Keith Johnson
VP, Maintenance, Reliability and Asset Performance Excellence
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Being an effective leader of any organization involves many qualities which have a profound impact on reaching Asset Performance Excellence. When speaking about leadership, it doesn’t matter if you are the first line supervisor, mid-level manager, or at the executive level; great leadership skills must be developed to be successful in making change sustainable.

Good leaders truly embrace, develop, and lead with sound change management practices. Companies successful in their Asset Management efforts really understand the leadership commitment it takes to make change sustainable. When organizations attempt to improve asset performance good leadership is essential for success. While some people seem to be natural-born leaders, leadership can be learned and developed through reading, looking to mentors and practice.

Acquire the Right Knowledge

A host of excellent books and materials are available on the subject of change management and leadership. I strongly recommend reading as much as possible or attending workshops to get a good foundation and understanding of the subject.  

Learn from Mentors

One of the memories that helped me with leadership skills while managing a maintenance organization was looking back at a particular teacher I had in high school who made a considerable impression. We have all seen interviews where someone successful in their field is asked about a teacher who made a difference in their lives. If you look at the answers that most people give, you start to see some common traits:

  • Be passionate about the subject
  • Take time to emphasize to students the importance of learning
  • Inspire everyone to do their best
  • Build upon students’ strengths   
  • Set clear expectations and ensure understanding  
  • Enforce consequences for not meeting expectations

When we look at the similarities between those teachers and what it takes to be a good leader we begin to see certain traits that can help you be successful in your reliability efforts no matter what type of industry or facility:

  • Have passion around what you are doing
  • Make clear the reasons and importance for the changes implemented to the workforce
  • Inspire your people to do their best
  • Build upon your employees’ strengths
  • Gain people’s respect and trust
  • Communicate clear expectations
  • Follow through with consequences if expectations are not met
  • Generate timely report cards or Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)
  • Celebrate successes

When you meet the challenges of changing culture through the way you do business, remember your eighth grade math teacher or that high school English teacher. They made a difference and so can you. Remember — to be a good leader you must be a good teacher!

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