Harsco’s legal and compliance leader is a firm believer that if leadership was easy, everyone would do it
I truly believe that grit and determination shape a good (or great) leader. Whether we are all striving to be good versus great leaders is a topic for a future discussion. Many us of will lead throughout a good portion of our careers, and most of us will be decent leaders, with solid teams behind us and the ability to achieve set goals. When I think of the makeup of a good leader and think about the type of leader I am striving to become, the characteristics I am looking to develop have, for the most part, been shaped through facing difficult or complex situations—and even outright adversity and failure at times.
As such, I believe that what shapes a good leader is the ability to lead a team and yourself through difficult or adverse situations while keeping that team—and yes, yourself—motivated, capable of executing and focused on the end game. I have been with my current company, Harsco, for the past eight years, and have seen it go through a variety of crises: the global financial crisis, three Chief Executive Officer (CEO) changes, multiple other changes in the C-Suite, the divestiture of a major division, and I could go on. I also have seen strong leaders steer this company, which has been around for more than 100 years, through each of these changes and continue to articulate a strategic path forward.
This month, for example, during our global leadership meeting, we provided 150 of our international leaders with a clear and strong message on both how and why we are going to continue on our strategic path, even with the departure of our CEO less than a week prior. This message was well received, and a highly energized team left that meeting clearly understanding their part in continuing to drive our company forward. Only good leadership can accomplish this.
Now, none of this is easy. If it were, good leaders would be in much greater supply, as opposed to being in great demand. This is where grit and determination come into play, as you have to believe that you can lead a team through a difficult situation, have to be willing to face failure (and if encountered, have the ability to pick yourself up, strategize an alternative path forward and keep going), and have to be willing to take responsibility for the failures and give the team the credit for the wins. Because at the end of the day, our teams aren’t looking for perfect leaders; they are looking for leaders who can shape a vision, articulate a strategy and drive execution, while providing team members the opportunity to develop their own skills, leadership or otherwise.
A. Verona Dorch is Chief Legal Officer and Chief Compliance Officer for Harsco Corp.