The Dysert File Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2009

Born: Pittsburgh, Pa.

Education: B.S. electrical engineering, Grove City College; MBA, Duke University

What was your first job?

Janitor at a health club

What was your most difficult leadership challenge?

(My) first job as an officer in the U.S. Navy. I was the Reactor Controls Division Officer on the USS Mississippi CGN-40. We deployed all over the world, including the Red Sea during Operation Desert Storm. I was 23 years old and led a division with 40 sailors and three chief petty officers. In retrospect, I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I learned a lot about working with and leading a team.

What is your greatest leadership lesson?

How important it is to face reality and not to approach things in a superficial way. It doesn’t matter whether you are running a manufacturing plant, developing a new product or managing a sales channel, there is no substitute for research, planning, measuring performance and reviewing progress.

Dysert on delegating: I think one of the great skills in delegating is can you hand off sort of the essence of what you want to get done without saying exactly how you want to get it done. So, you have to work very hard on being succinct and capturing the salient point. If you can do that, then you have to find checkpoints that make sense for everybody involved. A checkpoint doesn’t have to be a report, it can just be a conversation, and then you have to be willing to adjust your involvement based on that scenario.