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‘Be Bold Earlier,’ and Other Advice to Cultivate a Successful Team

A PPG president shares his mantras to lead and motivate.

Manufacturing is a team sport. It’s our job as leaders to draft the right team, ensure they receive ample practice, know the playbook and cultivate trust for one another. Like all sports teams, manufacturers want to win.

How do we win in an ever-changing marketplace? Manufacturers are currently facing a number of challenges, including strong talent competition, growing customer expectations and supply chain disruptions. In increasingly challenging times, it is vital for us to be equipped with the most valuable tool of all—a strong, engaged and diverse team. I often follow three mantras to successfully lead and motivate a global team.

1. Implement positivity

Many studies have shown that positivity cultivates productivity, collaboration and overall happiness among employees. I firmly believe that leading by example and exuding positivity is one of the key characteristics of a successful leader. When your team is exposed to an optimistic, solutions-focused leader, they’re more likely to mirror your behavior and permeate it through the rest of the organization. Whether facing new business challenges or keeping a balance between work and life, I encourage leaders to keep a positive, high-energy mentality as their north star.

Implementing this same positive, energized and dedicated nature at work and home is what keeps me balanced. I’m a firm believer in dedicating the same amount of energy and positivity to my professional life as I do my personal and family time, and I encourage my team to do the same. When employees feel that they have equal ownership of their professional and personal lives, they thrive.

2. Celebrate successes and earn results as one team

Teams feel engaged and appreciated when successes are shared and results are recognized. It’s important to celebrate achievements, and learn from the experiences and insights of others. I draw motivation from the people around me, and encourage others to do the same. Winning is cool when it’s collaborative. It is more fun to win as a team than as an individual.

One of the most important attributes of a team player to me is the ability to think beyond what’s in front of you. Thinking beyond your role, your team, your function, and even the business or region you are supporting is integral to fostering a collaborative culture and winning together. The quarterback doesn’t just think about the next move, but rather anticipates the defense, looks for the wide receiver, and ensures the offense is reading off the same song sheet. As manufacturing leaders, we must be the quarterback that our teams need.

3. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to take chances

When I was younger, my youth made me cautious to share innovative, transformative ideas. Now, I encourage individuals and teams, no matter what stage of their career they’re in, to be bold earlier and to not be afraid to take chances. When your team feels empowered to bring their whole self to work every day and share ideas without judgement, leaders can foster a culture of inclusion. This ultimately generates ideas and processes that alter the way we do business to serve customers in new ways. In order to implement change in the marketplace, companies and individuals have to be prepared to try, fail and take risks. Oftentimes, I’ve found that perceived risks generate some of the most fulfilling rewards. For example, the digital revolution wouldn’t have occurred unless a team recognized a significant gap in the marketplace, decided to create value for customers and ultimately, took a tremendous risk. Whether big or small, manufacturers should continue to seek game-changing opportunities that bring value to customers.

With manufacturing evolving at a rapid pace, we need to ensure that our teams are empowered with the right tools, resources and attitudes to embrace changes with positivity, high energy and a nimble pace.

Tim Knavish is the senior vice president, architectural coatings, and president, Europe, Middle East and Africa at PPG. He joined the company in flat glass engineering in 1987then advanced through various roles of increasing responsibility in engineering, technical services, operations and supply chain. A native of Pittsburgh, Knavish earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.

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