ASA’s Women in Industry held an “Ask an Executive” webinar June 24 with David Kohler, president and chief operating officer of Kohler Co., on the topic of leadership development. The webinar was moderated by Diane Earlyof American Pipe and Supply.
Kohler listed what the company looks for in leaders — self-awareness, results orientation, team builders, business knowledge, inspirational leadership, innovation and strategic focus.
“What I look for personally are: ethics and integrity; passion, energy and drive; the ability to deliver results; and people who can attract and build teams,” he noted.
When developing leaders, be cognizant of the level of the leader, Kohler said. In the case of emerging leaders, the focus should be on helping them effectively deliver results and demonstrate self-knowledge. People leaders should engage and inspire, know the business and build strong diverse teams. Leaders of leaders and executive leaders should demonstrate strategic focus and develop a culture of innovation and creativity.
To further development, Kohler Co. has an Individual Development Plan. The IDP has a 70-20-10 development plan model — 70% learning from experience; 20% learning from others, coaches and mentors; and 10% learning from formal classes, elearning and books.
“Individuals will work with a manager to understand where they want to go with their career — what are their dreams and aspirations — and how can we as a company help move them through a series of steps to achieve that career goal,” Kohler explained. “It’s also about the manager being honest and candid about the individual’s ability to achieve that goal and figuring out how they can work together to achieve it. This starts with figuring out what critical skill or experience gaps that person has.”
To women breaking into the plumbing industry, Kohler offered this advice: “The No. 1 thing is to find a mentor or set of mentors who are experienced in your field. No. 2: Get involved. Start to learn, grow, and move forward.”
His advice to women working in a male-dominated environment is to think of it as an advantage.
“It’s about what you bring to the table,” Kohler said. “If you can be confident and assertive in yourselves, that is the most important thing and it will get noticed.”
When asked what rules and mottos he tries to live by, Kohler responded: “Ethics, integrity and equality are at the foundation of not only the company, but who I am. I also think believing in yourself is important. You have to be your biggest fan in life. Try your best, have a will to succeed and build a network of support.”