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Global Pandemic. Quarantine. Economic Crashes. Industry Turmoil. Social Unrest. How do you navigate the obstacle course that is 2020 while effectively leading? With uncertainty looming, business leaders have to balance the ship and stay on course. We turned to our CEO, Trent Oglesby, for his thoughts on leading in these challenging times.
Question 1: How do you effectively lead in challenging times?
I believe that consistency is key. It’s not that things do not change. To the contrary, things often change in the industries we serve. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we remain fluid and agile to meet the evolving needs of our clients. But through the changes and uncertainty, it is essential to stay consistent in your tone, attitude, and your support of the team. We have worked hard to create an employee-first culture, where we evaluate every key decision against how it will impact our employees. Remaining consistent with our established culture is a constant guiding factor in how we manage in both good and bad times.
Through consistency, I believe we can provide a steady and calming presence to our team, which serves to deescalate nervousness and negative conflict. Remaining consistent, stable, and calm is not just for the top positions in the company. Every level of management must demonstrate the same consistency.
This is a very uncertain world that is creating challenging circumstances for several people across all levels of the company. So, as leaders, we must use consistency to knock the mountains down to molehills, never enhancing doubt or feeding panic.
Question 2: What are the most important values one can demonstrate as a leader?
Humility is always one of the most important qualities a leader can demonstrate, but certainly in these unprecedented times. Humility in a leader is paramount. When crises hit, many leaders feel the need to play the “hero” role. They feel, because of their position, there is an expectation for them to single-handedly fix the issue and pull the company through the changing time. But with what we, and many other companies are facing now, the issues cannot be resolved by one person, or in an echo chamber environment where others are not willing or able to share their thoughts and ideas.
"Humility in a leader is paramount."
I am fortunate to be surrounded by highly intelligent colleagues whom I trust and respect. I value their diverse backgrounds, skillsets, experiences, and perspectives. In the current environment, it is critical we remain innovative in determining more efficient ways to partner with our clients and add value to their projects. These solutions will require input from the entire organization and must be facilitated by humble leadership willing to admit they do not possess all of the answers.
Question 3 When in an environment of layoffs, pay cuts, bankruptcy, how do you adapt and motivate your team as a leader?
It is extremely challenging. We have employees that have been a part of our company for years, playing an instrumental role in our growth and success. We have built both professional and personal relationships with our employees, and we understand how losing their job will affect them and their families. It is not something we take lightly.
All of our managers have worked in this industry for several years and have been on the other side of that conversation. So, when they are tasked with laying off a valued employee, it is not just a form they fill out. Rather, it is a personal conversation with someone they know well and care for. Those conversations are taxing, and over time can really impact the morale of the company.
If unaddressed, a sense of survivor’s guilt can permeate the organization. Those that remain, while happy they are working, can start to question why they were able to stay while others were let go. To address this, it is important to continue investing in your team by letting them know they are valued and communicating their role in the long-term strategy for future success.
Question 4: How important is communication to employees in times of change and uncertainty?
Communication remains extremely important but has been challenging with quarantine and social distancing requirements. Fortunately, as a company we have prepared for this, and we are accustomed to supporting remote employees, remaining productive without being in the office. I have also learned through this experience that the forms of communication that may have worked in the past are no longer having the same impact. Company memos and long emails do not always address the concerns of everyone, so we are looking for new ways to connect with our team through videos and virtual meeting technology.
In addition to exploring new mediums, we are also continuing to evaluate our communication content. Given the current circumstances and uncertainty, it is important to remain as transparent as possible. Not only communicate what the company is doing, but why we are doing it, and how these decisions could impact each person’s responsibilities. Communication in an organization must be a conduit with ideas and concerns moving both ways, rather than a bullhorn of corporate edicts without regard to those that must implement and comply with the determined direction.
Question 5: Tell me about a mentor or leader you look up to and applaud. What do you like about them, and is there anything you take to implement into your leadership style?
There are several great leaders that I’ve had the privilege to work for and who’ve had a significant impact on my leadership beliefs. I have researched several that I admire, and I’m fortunate to work with great leaders across our company, whom I continue to learn from.
"The consistent trait that is shared across those I admire most is their ability to
lead through inspiration rather than intimidation."
These leaders bring a humble calmness to their organizations. They are vulnerable and available to their team. They lead by building relationships with those they rely on to reach the company’s goals. They do not operate at the top of the tower, separated from the rest of the company. They are true servant leaders. They do not hinder other’s opportunities for growth due to their own insecurities. They build and continue to support a foundation that allows everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential, without demanding personal accolades in the process.
Q&A Featuring Trent Oglesby, CEO | Percheron
Trent Oglesby is Chief Executive Officer of Percheron, LLC. He was integral in forming a fully integrated client offering, hiring key personnel to help create and implement the policies and standards that have now formed one of the largest and fastest-growing land services company’s in the United States. Trent began his career working as an independent Petroleum Landman in 2000 with OGM Land. Through subsequent years working in the oil & gas industry, he realized the need for right of way services, founding Percheron Acquisition, LLC, and surveying services, co-founding Percheron Surveying, LLC. He lives in Fulshear with his wife Amy and two children, where he remains active in his church, community, and his children’s various activities.