The Pletch file Featured

8:00pm EDT July 26, 2007

Age: 58

Born: Wingham, Ontario

History: President and CEO of ThyssenKrupp Elevator, Americas Business Unit, since 2003

What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?

The best one for me is that it does not matter what position you are in, you must surround yourself with above-average people. Above-average people will attract other above-average people to work with them. And once you have that in place, they will produce above-average results.

What skills or traits are essential for a business leader?

You have to have the intelligence to pick winners, above-average people. I’ve made lots of mistakes in my career, but you learn from your mistakes, and you get better the next time. You always have to add to the talent factory. You have to challenge yourself to find someone who is as good or better than you are, and challenge them to have someone on the bench who is as good or better than they are. There is no sports team that has won with a single pitcher or single quarterback. You have to have bench strength. You have to have someone who can step up when you are in a busy market or someone to step in below when someone moves up in the organization. I think by having that bench strength, your organization tends to get better and better.

What are several universal truths you’ve learned about leading a business?

I stole a few from Jack Welch over the years. The first one would be to provide goals for managers, then get out of their way. Let them do their job, don’t micromanage people. The second is that integrity is first and foremost on every agenda. We have zero tolerance here for anything that isn’t above-board, no rule-bending. The third is execution — it’s easy to develop products, ideas, processes, but development is only 15 percent, and the other 85 percent is execution.

You have to engage people and hold them accountable for all three. If you don’t have all three, you’re going to be weak, you’re going to lose.

But my favorite truth is that you have to measure everything. I’m a believer in measuring everything. From sales quotes to hours and minutes in production, installation, maintenance. If you can’t find a way to measure it, you’re not going to be able to find a way to manage it.