GoldsburyI’m often asked what it will take for the manufacturing industry to continue to thrive in the years ahead. To prepare for a bright future, we must actively engage with the industry’s leaders of tomorrow so that they can be ready to assume roles as ambassadors for manufacturing.

With that in mind, here are four ways equipment manufacturers can foster leadership within their own organizations and throughout the industry as a whole:

Organizational “Cross-Pollination”

It’s vitally important for young leaders to amass experiences in a variety of different fields. In an effort to develop promising employees, manufacturers should expose them to a variety of multi-discipline opportunities and experiences. Closely examine your organization to find young leaders and “cross-pollinate” them throughout your company. By introducing your best and brightest employees to various aspects of your company — and encouraging them to collaborate with colleagues who have different backgrounds, skillsets and responsibilities — you can develop potential leaders into versatile and dynamic resources. Take my own background as an example. I started out in finance and then moved to operations. It would have been easy for me to stay on a finance path, but in the long run, I would have missed key opportunities for development and my company wouldn’t have gotten the benefit of my full potential. 

Encourage Mentorship

One of the best ways to promote leadership within your organization is through mentorship opportunities. When it’s done well, mentorship is a mutually beneficial relationship. Mentors — veterans in your organization — can help younger employees navigate their career paths by spotting opportunities for their development and advising them on key career decision points. In turn, mentees can provide mentors with a fresh perspective on what drives and motivates younger employees.

Mentorship also promotes “cross-pollination” by connecting mentees with mentors from different disciplines within the company. For example, a promising young plant manager could benefit greatly from being partnered with someone in human resources or marketing. By partnering with other disciplines, that plant manager has the opportunity to gain new skills, learn valuable lessons, make connections within the company, and gain a different perspective on how his or her role fits in the bigger picture.  

Promote Community Involvement

Giving back to the communities in which our employees live and work is no longer optional. It’s a must. The next generation of employees and leaders want to work for companies that make more than just a profit — they want to work for companies that make a difference. Creating a culture of giving back will help create leaders who are ready to be the next generation of ambassadors for our industry. It’s no longer possible for a company to quietly go about its business. They must play an active role in their communities. Company leaders must have strong relationships with community leaders, elected officials and business peers. This all starts with creating a culture of giving back and empowering employees to engage beyond the standard 9-to-5. Empowering your employees to represent the company in the community will provide them a chance to test their leadership skills and network with other leaders in the community.

Connect With Industry Peers

There’s no overstating the importance getting involved in trade associations. Often, manufacturers in the equipment industry are competitors with one another. However, when we collectively team up with an organization like AEM, we can put aside our competitive nature and help advance causes that are important to us all. In addition, connecting with industry peers helps foster opportunities to network with and learn from each other, while also laying the groundwork for future industry-wide successes that move the industry forward for the benefit of everyone.

I’ve been closely involved with AEM for more than 12 years, and I value the personal and professional relationships I’ve made with others in our industry through my time spent on various committees and the association’s boards.

It’s critical for the equipment industry to look to the future and consider all of the potential changes that could impact how we do business. Just as important, is the willingness for us, as its leaders, to embrace our collective role as drivers of change. We need to establish and cultivate a culture of leadership both inside and outside of our own organizations. If we don’t, our industry will evolve without us, and the world will simply pass us by.

We’re part of a marvelous industry, one comprised of talented, driven individuals from a wealth of different backgrounds. Manufacturing is thriving today, and its short-term future is secure. Now, we must embrace the task of developing our manufacturing leaders of tomorrow so we can guarantee the industry’s bright future for generations to come.

Rich Goldsbury is president and CEO of Doosan Bobcat North America, and he currently serves as chair of the AEM Board of Directors. 

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