Leadership in Tough Times: Major General John Batiste, president of Klein Steel

The nation and world have just been through a tough economic time and overall the economy remains very fragile. One of the hardest hit industries was the metals industry, yet Klein Steel continues to grow and improve. Many people ask, "How did you do it?" In this keynote session at the 2011 IW Best Plants Conference, Major General John Batiste, U.S. Army (Retired), President, Klein Steel Service Inc., answers this question and includes practical examples and counsel on the following:


  • How do you grow a profitable business?
  • How do you turn around marginal or unprofitable customers?
  • How is leadership connected to profitability?
  • How do you grow a team-member centric organization?
  • What are the most important principles of leadership?
  • What kind of organization do you lead?


In This Presentation You Will See

  • It's all about your team. (in minute 7)

  • Leadership is not for the meek. (in minute 8)

  • The Klein Steel story: safety. (in minute 8)

  • The traditional leadership model: "That's not what we're trying to achieve." (in minute 13)

  • Team members can call the shots. (in minute 16)

  • Batiste introduces concept of six leadership principles. (in minute 19)

  • Principle No. 1: Set the azimuth for the organization. Continuously communicate the company's mission, vision and values. (in minute 20)

  • Principle No. 2: Listen to your teammates. Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut. (in minute 30)

  • Principle No. 3: Decentralize. Trust, empower and mentor your team members. Develop your bench. (in minute 32)

  • Principle No. 4: Do the right thing when no one is looking. Are you walking the talk with your values? (in minute 35)

  • Principle No. 5: When in charge, take charge. Leaders need to lead, follow or get out of the way. (in minute 38)

  • Principle No. 6: Balance is key. It's not about working harder, it's about working smarter. (in minute 40)

  • Takeaways: Leadership is a developed skill, a journey. (in minute 42)

  • Batiste's response to a question asking him what his greatest weakness was a leader was when he made the transition to civilian life. (in minute 45)

  • Batiste's response to a question about what he looks for when identifying talent for the organization. (in minute 47)

  • Batiste's response to a question about what employers can do to help veterans assimilate into civilian life. (in minute 51)

  • and more


About the Speaker

Major General John Batiste, U.S. Army (Retired), President, Klein Steel Service Inc.

John Batiste joined Klein Steel Service in November 2005 as its president after 31 years of service in the U.S. Army. He retired from active duty on Nov. 1, 2005, and transitioned to Klein Steel in Rochester, N.Y., the same month. He and his wife Michelle were married in 1977 and have five children.

Batiste was commissioned as an infantry officer in 1974. Over the next 31 years, he served in a variety of leadership and staff positions, to include platoon, company, battalion, brigade, and division command. His major combat and peace enforcement experience included deployments to Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Operations Desert Shield and Storm from August 1990 to April 1991, to Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Implementation Force mission from December 1995 to November 1996, and again to Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 from January 2004 to February 2005.

Batiste's final assignment in the Army was commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division from August 2002-June 2005. During this timeframe, the "Big Red One" conducted successful peace enforcement operations in Kosovo and combat operations in Iraq. The division combat team was deployed to north-central Iraq from February 2004 until February 2005 and included 22,000 soldiers from active and reserve component units from throughout the United States.

Batiste is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and the Army War College. He also earned a masters degree in financial management from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. He serves as the chairman of the New York State Veterans' Affairs Commission, is a member of the board of directors of the Metals Service Center Institute, is a member of the board of advisors of the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, is a board member of the Rochester-based Veterans Outreach Center, and is the president of the Rochester Regional Veterans Business Council.


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