A funny thing about leadership: when the worst of times are upon us, the best leaders tend to shine brightest. While I wouldn’t label these days as the worst business environment we’ve ever seen—far from it—the post-pandemic processing industries certainly face their share of turbulence ahead. Those challenges come in the form of tighter standards and expectations for sustainability, workforce shortages and supply disruptions, to name a few.
The motivation to do great things is alive and well as we hear enthusiastic plans and new innovations to address each of those challenges. However, without great leadership, motivated executives, investors and workers—as well as their best laid plans—tend to become a mass of malaise with no real progress in sight.
Leading through turbulent times takes experience and practice. That was the theme of the recent Measurement, Control and Automation Association’s (MCAA) recent Industry Forum in Arlington, Texas. Shane Filer, general manager, Neal Systems Inc., and an MCAA board member, opened the multiday gathering by saying, “There’s something different when leaders come together. Leadership asks things in a different way.” And many of the industry’s leaders were interested in picking the brains of their peers, as more than 300 attendees, including representatives from 137 member companies, made this year’s gathering the group’s largest event ever.
While there, they heard from Capt. Mike Abrashoff, former commander of the USS Benfold—once considered one of the worst run ships in the U.S. Navy before he famously turned it into one the best. Abrashoff made some important points about what it takes to be a great leader, the first being that no one is a born leader, and it takes a lifelong pursuit to be good at it. This is exactly why the heads of so many measurement and control companies came to Texas—to find out what it takes to be and to produce quality leaders.
They will need those leaders as economic turbulence will hang around for a bit longer. Alan Beaulieu president and principal, ITR Economics, said during the conference’s final presentation, the U.S. economy will still be slowing as we go through the remainder of this year until the end of 2024. However, he points out, the GDP will increase—a sign of a healthy economy— before taking two separate dips from that growth. He added that while the press will howl during a presidential election year about recession, it’s nothing good leadership can’t handle to get companies through the muck.
Now, aren’t you glad you kept up your pursuit of becoming a productive leader?