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Lifting People Through Leadership

To promote growth, challenge those you supervise.

In the world of industrial trucks, our business is about helping customers find better ways to utilize their resources and help them make their warehouses as efficient as possible. As leaders, we must apply this same philosophy to those we supervise- provide opportunities to lift them higher and help them move forward toward their goals- which will also help the company move ahead.

Embrace Challenges
You’re only as good as the team that supports you. In order to succeed as a leader, you have to help those you supervise grow, adapt and change. Develop your people, challenge them and lead by example. Often, people coming into a company don’t seek growth and opportunities- they’re simply content to stay in their current position and fail to look above and beyond. Not only will this limit their growth, but it could also impact the company. Stagnation rising from the bottom could poison the environment. Fight it by challenging those you supervise. My manager and mentor, Chief Financial Officer Mike Rowe, consistently challenges me, even when we agree on an issue. He urges me to embrace the challenge, look at things in a new way and not shrink back from new and different ideas. If you think outside the box, the people below you will see it’s an important trait and want to follow in your footsteps.

Lead by example; don’t be afraid to jump into the trenches when it’s necessary and let people know they can trust you to be there when needed. Those actions will instill the people you supervise with confidence and will continue to challenge you as a leader. Keep the lines of communication open, work as a team and communicate with each other.

Understand the Company
No matter what your role within the company, it’s important to understand not only what your company does, but also how they do it. I may not work on forklifts every day, but I’ve pushed myself to learn about them, and more important, our company’s approach to marketing, selling and servicing them. It’s helped me better understand my role within the company and helps me to further educate those I supervise on a daily basis.

Encourage input and always be open to rethinking the process. It’s a phrase that gets used a lot, but don’t be afraid to “think outside the box” and to encourage those you manage to do the same.

Measure Growth and Success
I’m a firm believer in the idea that people perform as to how they’re measured. If they know what you’re keeping an eye on, that’s where they’ll pour their energies. People need to know they’re doing a good job- or where they need to improve. Help your people set goals and find ways to nurture those goals. I conduct weekly meetings and review key goals, measurements and issues.

Be a Work in Progress
In their novel The Goal, authors Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox examine the challenges that managers face on a daily basis and teaches the importance of re-engineering, retooling and rethinking processes. As managers, we must not only urge those we supervise to constantly grow and excel, but we must also be willing to do so. The material handling industry is constantly growing and changing- and it needs people who are equally open to growth and change. Don’t be afraid to step back and re-evaluate processes.

Moving Ahead Means Looking Back
Though we must always keep our eyes on the future, effective leaders must be willing to learn from the voices of experience. I’m constantly drawing on the experiences of my mentor, but also draw from my grandfather’s experiences. As a long-time business owner, he committed himself to constant improvement. In today’s open world, technology has enabled us to accomplish things previous generations didn’t think possible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from their path to success.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
Josh Downs Meet the Author
Josh Downs, 26, is financial accounting manager for Carolina Handling ( Charlotte, NC). A 5-year material handling industry veteran, Downs says he likes the variety and challenge offered by the industry.


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