Born: Fort Madison, Iowa
Education: Bachelor’s degree, industrial engineering, Georgia Tech; MBA, Georgia State University
First job: As a 13-year-old, I had a job with the local parks department cutting grass and whacking weeds.
Away from work: My No. 1 passion outside of work is golf. I’m a mediocre golfer, but I’m passionately in love with it. Even better, my wife fell in love with golf 15 years ago, so I always have a standing golf partner.
What traits or skills are essential for a business leader? You need to be the energy source for your organization. The organization needs to feed off of the leader in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish. If you don’t project that energy source, you’d better find someone else in the organization who can do it.
You do not need to be the smartest person on the team. What you need to be the smartest about is how to engage people in the organization. People engagement is a very important skill.
You need to treat people with respect. That is a core value within DuPont, and in my 30 years here, every year as I’ve continued to grow and understand, it has just underscored the importance of treating people with respect. It’s absolutely an essential core value.
I think a leader has to provide a very strong tone around customer focus. If a leader is not connected to the market and is not projecting the importance of customers and the No. 1 mission of satisfying customers, that person is not going to be as successful as someone who does.
A leader has to be thinking around constancy of purpose for many thing that they do. Changing directions, changing strategies on a weekly or monthly basis is not good for an organization.
A leader really has to understand how to control their emotions. Use emotions as a tool, not as a weakness. There are many times where you want let your emotions go, and that’s not the right thing for the organization. There are other times when it really helps for the organization to see an emotional response, but always make a conscious decision as opposed to a reactive decisions in terms of your emotions.