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The Art of Strategic Leadership by Stephanie S. Mead, Steven J. Stowell

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Chapter 5Alex's Journey Begins

For eight weeks, Alex explored every corner of the Dallas plant, observing operators working on the line, maintenance crews tending and repairing equipment, quality technicians testing products, engineers designing new processes, and warehouse workers inspecting incoming materials and packing finished items for shipment. He inspected equipment, talked to employees about conditions at the plant and their lives outside of work, and peered over the shoulders of the team leaders as they conducted business, interacted with their people, fielded questions, and responded to problems. He wanted to get to know the members of the Dallas community, observe them at work, and pinpoint the plant's current strengths and opportunities for improvement. The first step to shaping the future, Alex knew, was seeing clearly where things stood in the present.

Alex was pleasantly surprised by how readily people shared their views about where the plant needed to improve over the long haul, as well as what they thought it did well. One of Alex's first steps as manager was a town hall-type meeting with the entire staff. After introducing himself, he assured everyone that he hadn't come to Dallas to clean house; there were no plans to lay off workers or bring in new department heads. He was there to listen and learn and to leverage their knowledge and experience in charting a course for a secure future for the Dallas plant as a vital part of PSI.

As it turned out, there were ...

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