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November 9, 2017 | by Bob Weidner

The Key to Excellence and Growth

Recognizing that people are the most valuable asset and creating the leadership to mobilize them

“I believe that, the prevailing system of management is, at its core, dedicated to mediocrity. It forces people to work harder and harder to compensate for failing to tap the spirit and collective intelligence that characterizes working together at their best.” —Peter M. Senge

MIT lecturer, provocative author, critical thinker, Peter Senge has long been a favorite of mine. If you have not encountered him before, I would especially recommend his insightful book The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization.

No clichés, no quick fixes or useless aspirational and unobtainable business objectives. Peter Senge, as you can tell from the above, is at times little impressed with today’s chief executives. His solutions on the other hand offer light and solid guidance to business leaders struggling with today’s workforce demands and shifting talent availability. His dedication to the idea that learning is a lifelong journey seems particularly valuable in these days of volatility and ambiguity.

Across the industrial metals supply chain, we are dealing with some of the toughest employee challenges ever.

Here at MSCI, in response to the changing demographics of today’s workforce, young and old, we firmly believe in Senge’s dedication to solid professional development and excellence in team building. Across the industrial metals supply chain, we are dealing with some of the toughest employee challenges ever. Older, experienced people are leaving, or find themselves ill-equipped to handle the modern technologies that are changing the face of service centers and mills from factory floors to back office sales.

At the same time, younger, more tech-savvy applicants may not understand what our industry must offer, may not appreciate that we are nothing less than the builders of this country. But industry leaders who have “done it this way” for far too long can find themselves confused by today’s human resources challenges and may be unsure how to meet them.

MSCI has already begun rolling out an enhanced and more sophisticated agenda of leadership, executive and workforce training. Our popular and strongly endorsed Strategic Metals Management course continues to evolve to meet the demands and fresh problems of modern managers. Our already highly praised new Battle Tested Leadership Principles for Metals Executives, at the Historic Thayer Hotel at West Point on the grounds of the United States Military Academy in New York, offers company leaders the opportunity to learn team building and focused decision making from a cadre of the most astute retired U.S. military officers.

But we also understand that this sort of investment in people and leadership will only make perfect sense to a very specific kind of chief executive. As we know, there are those  who view their employees primarily as an expense and often a costly liability. Their emphasis is not on developing their people, but rather constantly looking for ways to drive down this expense. These are executives who may talk about professional development and forging effective teams, but do not make the investment necessary to build these vital resources. This attitude and practice, we have seen over time, is simply a recipe for failure.

At MSCI, on the other hand, we are dedicated to those companies and members, who know that their people are their most important asset, and that investing in their progress and productivity is the key to growth and success. We know that these are the companies that will prosper even as the economy, their markets, their materials, and their technologies make continuous and often surprising new demands on their business.

That is why we are focusing renewed energy on leadership development in many innovative ways that we will be telling you about in succeeding months. We, as always, are interested primarily in giving you the most effective tools to run your businesses more efficiently and more profitably. That, I would suggest, takes the talent, skill, investment and perseverance to create an organization where people look forward to coming to work each day because they believe in it and in themselves. Productivity is the ROI for companies who embrace a successful human capital management model.

As Peter Senge also wrote: “When you ask people about what it is like being part of an effective team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience. People talk about being part of something larger than themselves, of being connected, of being generative. It becomes quite clear that, for many, their experiences as part of truly great teams stand out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest.”

Learn more about Strategic Metals Management.

Stay tuned for additional offerings of Battle-Tested Leadership Principles for Metals Leaders in 2018.