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It goes without saying that in times of crisis or great uncertainty, we often look to those in leadership positions to guide us and give us direction. In this interview with Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson, Tom Forsythe, executive VP of KYZEN, shares his insight on leadership and what he believes makes a good leader.
Barry Matties: Tom, as a business leader, what do you feel is the most important aspect that someone in a leadership role needs to learn from this outbreak?
Tom Forsythe: One of the key things is the old adage “expect the unexpected.” This clearly blindsided the planet with very few exceptions, yet in the U.S. and even in Europe, we had some advance warning. What did people do in view of that? That’s what a leader’s job is. Nobody’s a soothsayer, but if there’s something coming at you, you should be able to hear it or see it before it whacks you in the head, hopefully. Then, what do you do? You duck, jive, bob, and weave. In times like this, that’s what you see. People care about whether you care about them. In the U.S., 30 million people unemployed who had jobs six weeks ago.
Matties: Right, but in many cases, nobody saw this coming. It was fast-moving.
Forsythe: But even in the first few weeks, there was a lot of, “Who’s on your team and lives with their parents? Maybe they should not come to work for a while. Who’s at risk? Who has been exposed?” For example, back in January, we were identifying people in the building who had jobs who could function pretty well remotely, and we had our IT people making sure they had what they needed and that everybody had high-speed Internet.
Matties: What you’re saying, if I summarize, is that the leadership must make sure that the tools and support are there for the employees. That’s a big role in achieving the culture, motivation, and work environment while keeping their business financially sound.
To read the rest of this interview, which appeared in the June 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.