Look for opportunities within the company.
Some of the best ideas that come up as opportunities bubble up through the organization.
They aren’t top-down driven. Once something’s bubbled up or we’ve identified something that makes sense, we have a pretty rigorous process that we go through to assess the opportunity.
Can we do this as well as somebody who’s already doing it or (do it) better? Is the market growing or getting smaller? Is it a big opportunity or a small opportunity? And then we look at the management side of it. Do we have the management expertise to execute on the opportunity?
And the final thing we’ll do is a capital ROI analysis on the opportunity to see whether it meets our margin requirements and goals and whether it’s a good financial decision.
Stay out front in the organization.
I’m on the road 60 percent of the time, meeting with customers, teams and associates. When you’re visible like that, people interpret it as you care.
I’m not sure I’m adding a lot of critical input on a lot of the business decisions we’re making with clients, but if we’re out there and the senior leadership is involved with the teams and the people and, most importantly, with the customers, they see it as, ‘this is a company that cares about us.’
I differentiate between leadership and management. Leadership is that energy and driving force, that vision that really propels an organization forward. There are people who can manage the process and the execution of what needs to happen, but the leaders have to lead by example.
In my experience, the best leaders are the people who can get out there and actually can demonstrate and live the leadership that they talk about. People pick up on that, they learn from it, and I think if you’re a weak leader, it really impacts the organization.
Let the market know what your competencies are.
Sticking to our core competencies and getting real good at those and getting real well-known for that, there’s some real merit in that. Right now there’s a significant effort under way to ensure that we’re leveraging our core competencies most effectively and that the market knows what they are.
That’s good, that’s step one, but the next step is (making sure that) the potential clients and customers out there who have those problems understand that Haverstick has solid capabilities in those areas, and if you’re going to get on the phone with that kind of problem, Haverstick is at least on the short list to be contacted.
Win with teams.
My leadership style is really a team style. Teams win games, not players. I’m always trying to drive toward the team wins, the team prevails.
It’s sometimes difficult to do because we’re a technology-based company, so you do have very talented players, and sometimes those people can impact the organization negatively. You’ve got to get them into the mindset of (thinking) the team is ultimately going to win in these larger projects and things that we engage in.
There are a lot of resources and people; there’s not just one superstar that’s going to dominate everything.
You’ve got to be able to identify the leaders, and the really good managers and senior people in the organization have got to be able to identify, nurture, mentor and groom future leaders.
This may sound negative, but not everybody wants to be a leader. Truthfully, if you look at any organization, there are going to be a lot of people who say, ‘I don’t want to take on that level of responsibility, I don’t want to be responsible for a lot of other people.
I want to be able to contribute and fit in, but I’m not sure I want to be that leader because with that leadership comes a lot of responsibility and authority.’
Don’t let up on communication.
I don’t think you can over-communicate. It’s hard to overcommunicate the strategy and what’s going on in the company.
You feel like people know it and you feel like you’ve articulated it well and you’re walking down the hall and you’re talking to an associate and you say, ‘Did you hear that?’ and they say ‘Kind of heard that,’ or ‘We didn’t hear that.’
It’s something that we try to improve on. It’s a challenge that I don’t think will ever go away, especially when you have new people coming in to the organization. We are right now working very hard on a new-hire orientation program. We’ve improved it quite a bit, but I think there’s still room for improvement.
It’s tough, because if you’re a technology company like we are, things are shifting all the time, so things that were important to us 18 months ago most likely won’t be as important today.
Stick with it.
Early on, from a lot of people, I got a lot of encouragement, and in that encouragement, what people would always say to me is that most people give up on their goals and dreams too quickly.
I’d say if you have the belief, if you have the idea, stick with it, because you’re going to learn so much about that idea and how it can be brought to fruition.
That consistent perseverance and conviction that your ideas and dreams can happen, to me that’s the best advice that I got. You have to have that belief and consistency to say, ‘If we do enough of the right things, we’re going to prevail.’
HOW TO REACH: Haverstick Inc., www.haverstickinc.com