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There is no doubt that it has been a tough two years in the oil patch. Every company in the industry has felt the impact. The changing market has led to shelved projects, cost reductions and lost jobs. No one can ignore the emotional toll of losing great colleagues and dealing with uncertainty. Uncertainty and ambiguity can drive distraction, while fewer resources and less engagement simply make it harder to get things done.
So what can we do to navigate this whirlwind? What characteristics must we exhibit to make a positive impact? The fantastic Dr. Ben Welch from the Mays Business School at Texas A&M came to speak to iMPACT, our Halliburton Professionals Network about leadership. His talk was relevant to many of the challenges we are facing today. I wanted to share my take-away on how to become a best athlete as we lead through the challenges of the downturn.
1. Determination – In this market, nothing comes easy. Winning a new contract, launching an initiative, piloting new technology- whatever “it” is will require extra coordination, greater communication and added drive. Push-back and noise are a given. For those of us who like to charge up the hill, the pace may require more patience along with the same tenacity and grit to get things done.
2. Be Industrious – Last year I led a team that launched a new product in the US market. “Conventional” wisdom says wait to launch until market recovery but we had a vision of the problem our technology would solve and the differentiated solutions we could deploy. This service has had solid uptake and delivered a new level of diagnostics to enable customizing completions. Pricing is healthy because we are providing real value. Ironically, the downturn is the perfect place for disruption. We cannot stop innovating.
3. Think Futuristically – Our industry is cyclical but this is different. We are experiencing a major paradigm shift. Our business will not just look different on the other side – it will BE different. This is our greatest opportunity for impact. We will need new technology, more effective solutions and new commercial models. As leaders, it is up to us to fix what is broken and keep bringing new ideas. Leaders are driven not by who and what the company is today – they are working and leading because they hold tight to the vision of what it will be tomorrow.
4. Encouragement – There is no price tag. It’s free. In my opinion, right now the most important encouragement does not come in the form of praise but in the form of listening. Listening to others. Listening to what obstacles need help to be moved. Listening to concerns. Listening to new ideas. Being heard and having your opinion valued is an incredible motivator.
5. Respect – Be respectful to others. Everyone behaves differently under stress. In some, it brings out some pretty bad behavior. Don’t cut people off mid-sentence. No eye rolling or heavy sighing. Everyone is working hard and long hours. Stay professional. Being disrespectful or condescending derails any team and stalls forward progress.
6. Character = credibility – It is simple. Tell the truth and act with integrity. No whitewashing, no CYA, no ego – the truth wins, courage wins, taking time to do the right thing in the right way wins in the short term and long term.
7. Resilience – It is hard to fight challenges day in and day out. Pushing through requires creativity and resilience. I don’t mean the resilience of pushing through mile 3 discomfort. I mean the dig deep, mile 23 marathon wall-hitting, cramps in your legs, you think you can’t take one more step type resilience. It is ok to slow down, but we cannot stop. We have to keep driving forward. Even the small victories matter.
8. Enthusiasm – Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. It is very important to deal with the reality we face in the businesses we run today but if we execute on the above there is every reason to be enthusiastic. We need to celebrate our teams and our progress. Enthusiasm can start a groundswell of fresh ideas and unleash momentum that can propel an entire organization forward.