From Engineering Geek to Passionate Leader
“Conventional Wisdom says that leaders are born, but I don’t believe that’s true. We can all learn – then teach others – how to understand and apply the principles of successful leadership.” – Tony Dungy, The Mentor Leader
I have been passionate about developing leaders for over 25 years, however I never set out with this in mind. As a young mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Michigan entering the job market, I had no idea that would be the most fulfilling part of my career.
One of my first jobs after college was as a Production Supervisor in the Prince Corporation sun visor manufacturing plant in Holland, MI. I was an inexperienced 24-year-old responsible for leading over 30 team members, who had a wide variety of backgrounds, skills and ages. In this position I ended up working a lot of long days, while it seemed like everyone else worked normal hours. Besides that, I wasn’t a very good leader.
With my responsibilities continually piling up, I realized there had to be a better way. I finally figured out that I didn’t have to do it all myself and could delegate some things to others. In doing so, my work stopped overwhelming me so much and I actually found that delegating was empowering some of the production team! They were developing their skills and abilities while I experienced a more manageable workload – a win-win.
As time went on, I started really enjoying seeing people gain confidence in new skills and grow as individuals. This has evolved into having a passion for developing others, especially as leaders. For example, while working in various manufacturing leadership roles at Prince the next 5 years, I helped lead an effort to create and implement a Manufacturing Excellence Program (MEP). The MEP was for production team members to gain plant operations knowledge and leadership skills, and to grow into positions of more responsibility.
My passion for developing leaders has grown throughout my career experiences. First at Prince and now the last 14 years at Disher, where I serve as a Corporate Officer and Business Lead. As Disher has grown from 4 to 120 employees, I have had the joy of working with, learning from, mentoring and coaching some amazing and gifted people.
As part of Disher’s Business Solutions offerings, we offer a variety of Leadership Development services to our customers. We call our servant leadership focused offering Leadership ROI™. Stay tuned for my next blog post – it will dive into Leadership ROI™ (hint: ROI is a non-financial Disher acronym)!
Written by: Bob Soeters | Bob possesses over 30 years of industry experience, working in a variety of roles ranging from manufacturing supervision to strategic planning. He leads several of Disher’s multi-disciplined engineering teams and is also responsible for the financial, accounting, and human resource areas. He has received a wide variety of leadership training including Dale Carnegie, McGuire Skills for Managing and Kolbe Cognitive among others. With this extensive experience and training, Bob provides leadership development and leadership coaching for both Disher and Disher’s clients.