We were joined for another in our series of Leadership Talks by Oscar Gregory, to discuss 'Leadership Through Change and Adversity'.
This is a topic that is of immediate concern to many of our emerging leaders, and Oscar was the obvious choice to grill on the subject. Oscar has a long and storied career in the Illawarra steel industry, which has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the last 40 years. He compared what we are going through we now, with the coronavirus crisis, to the recession in the 1980s, and the GFC of 2009, when he was an executive at Bluescope Steel.
Throughout our discussion with Oscar, for which LIP members we encouraged to prepare 'searching' questions, the themes that stood out were his humility and his respect for the people he managed. Memorably, he reminded us that in a crisis "There are no bad ideas" - that sometimes the most effective strategies can come from unexpected quarters and for this reason it is crucial that the whole workforce is engaged in finding solutions. On a practical level Oscar gave us lots of great advice about cost saving, and smart reallocation of resources both human and material. But he acknowledges that it is your people that will get you through it - be transparent, be honest, be visible and nurture a culture of respect.
What were the critical items you had to made relatively quick decisions on? (Production rate, inventory, acceptable losses, etc.)?
What strategies did you use to maintain morale during this period?
In hindsight what would you have done differently?
How can leaders effectively engage their teams and staff in making difficult business decisions, and get their buy in to safely and effectively take action even when it may see them out of a job?
What do you see as being a major change to business operations that is required (now or later) as a result of Covid, and do you have any tips for helping us lead our teams through instituting such a change?
Posted by Beth
Blog posts written by the Leadership Illawarra Program Cohort.