Lynnda is continuing to heal and get stronger. We see the oncologist in late November to discuss radiation therapy which is typical after a lumpectomy. Before her surgery we were invited by the President of the Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) to their annual Gala in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a fun black-tie event. Lynnda was happy to make the trip because we had a nice long visit with our grandson, his wife and Lynnda got to hold our great-granddaughter for the first time. They live in Hampton Rhodes close to Williamsburg.
We also attended the annual Women in Manufacturing Leadership Conference VMA sponsors. We learned “Little Debbie”, the face on Little Debbie snack cakes is a real person. Debbie Mckee-Fowler is Chairman of the Board for Mckee Foods Corporation, a family business. Debbie was 3 years old when her grandfather took the picture we see on every snack cake box. Debbie is now 67. She did the opening keynote for the conference. Debbie is an example of leadership people can aspire to. Her two greatest fears she admitted were firing someone and public speaking. As a leader she has had to do both. Her keynote was entertaining and informative.
One of the ways Virginia manufacturers are solving their worker shortage is encouraging women to enter the skilled trades through a program called Girl Apprenticeship Power. They find women do very well in the skilled trades especially in shipyards. Women are usually a little smaller and can work in tight spaces. Brute strength isn’t required as much as fine motor skills. They currently have a 14% female enrollment rate that is growing. These are high paying jobs where apprentices earn while they learn just as in our region.
At the conference we learned women have unique challenges. The question was asked, “Who has experienced harassment?” Almost every woman’s hand was up. Equal pay for equal work was also a big issue. Successful women leaders shared what they did to rise to the top and the importance of finding your own voice, having a plan and being a lifelong learner. From visiting with many attendees and listening to the presenters who were successful leaders, it was clear these women are very people focused and caring. The key to their success was the ability to develop people and teams, an essential skill, especially today.
Lynnda and I just got back from the West Virginia State soccer tournament in Beckley. We won a hard fought 1-0 victory and play for the State AA-A Boy’s Championship on Saturday. Our team won the last two State Championships. Almost all of the starters from those teams graduated in May. We have a young team this year. Most of our players on the field today had never played in a state tournament game. They were developed over the course of the season. Joe, the head coach, led the development. He changed the training from the previous seasons to adapt to the needs of the boys this year. Each of us assistant coaches has a role to play. It was a slow start. We lost some games and struggled to win others. Our senior captains became strong leaders. They set an example with their hustle and positive attitude. I was thrilled how they developed and how everyone came together as a team. Our school and soccer teams have won state championships, this team hasn’t yet. They have one more game to win.
From years of work I’ve done with teams in athletics and business, three of the most important keys to successful teams are;
- Trustworthy leadership who can communicate, influence and develop people.
- A common goal or dream everyone buys into. Leaders cast the dream. It is the dream or common goal that unites a diverse group into a team.
- Diversity of skills and thought. Great leaders mold a diverse group into a team.
High school and college coaches get a new group of players every year and have to mold them into a team. Most businesses and other organizations are more stable but experience personnel changes. Are you prepared for them? Are you constantly developing people and future leaders? Our entire soccer team gets leadership training. The captains get a deeper dive. Successful businesses and organizations are constantly training to develop people at all levels. If someone chooses to leave or gets promoted a back-up is ready.
Everyone on a team doesn’t always like each other. Division is a challenge to unity. Great leaders find a common goal to unite people. On the soccer pitch division is eliminated. Our boys are united against our opponent. The entire team is focused on the goal of winning a game or a championship. In your business, church or other organization can you find a common goal everyone buys into?
Can we find elected leaders who unite rather than divide people? A common goal is there if we look for it. The Shale Crescent USA region has abundant economical energy, a great workforce, abundant water and a location in the middle of one of the largest economies on the planet. At Shale Crescent USA we have been promoting the assets of our region as opportunities for local companies to expand or for others to locate here creating jobs and raising the standard of living for people in the region.
At a recent conference hosted by the US Department of Commerce, we learned Germany’s plan was to depend on Russia for natural gas, the USA for defense and China for cheap manufactured goods. Then Russia shut off their gas. Depending on China for manufacturing enables the Chinese to pour emissions unchecked into the atmosphere. Europe locating a portion of their high energy manufacturing in the Shale Crescent USA is a necessity to stay in business and reduce high emission Chinese imports. Multiple solutions exist to any problem. Effective leaders bring people together to find and implement them.
Greg Kozera, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.