As it is my job to offer opinions, I find myself studying “hot” issues about which I can offer them, and so the impulse to spout off on the Presidential election is a pretty strong one. But, even though it’s a chance that comes just once every four years, I’ll restrain myself.
I have opinions on political, social, and global issues, but I think it’s generally best to keep those particular thoughts out of these columns. This reflects, in part, my belief that I can be more persuasive if I rely on facts rather than impulse. But, I’m also convinced that in an industry like metalcasting there are dozens of other subjects on which readers need information, or guidance, or persuasion. That’s my first responsibility: to convey ideas that readers can use to improve their own circumstances.
I will, though, use this electioneering atmosphere to make a different point. When Ronald Reagan passed away this year I began to think about the differences between a politician and a leader: The first masters a process and holds a public position; the latter persuades others to trust him, and holds their confidence. Politicians are in plain view; leaders, though they are everywhere, are a bit more difficult to find.
Politicians can be leaders, but in an election season one has to choose them cautiously. All of them will tell us what we want to hear, and only a few of them, usually only in small doses, tell us what we need to hear. If they’re honest, they’ll find a way to make both halves of that equation a true statement of their purpose. And if they’re elected, and if they’re successful, it’s because they maintain our trust by preserving that honesty and clarity.
Leadership is a quality that’s needed in the business world, too, as we know. There, not surprisingly but a bit ironically, it’s more in demand than supply.
In the past five years the manufacturing industries, of course, have needed leadership, and a lot more. Metalcasting, in particular, needs resourceful people. It needs innovators. For companies in a globalizing industry, it’s a new standard for leadership. Leaders must inspire good work, good habits, and good ideas in others. They must attract talent, address problems, and bring about opportunities — sometimes with a singular effort. They must set goals and agendas that others are eager to join. Leaders must attune themselves to developments that may alter their agenda.
Above all, metalcasting needs leaders who are decisive, because it’s an industry that is in the midst of technological change. Decisions have to be made about markets to be served, investments to be made, and products to be developed or changed.
I realize, and I hope you do, too, that the metalcasting industry has many good leaders. They are the executives, operators, researchers, and suppliers who are eyeing new markets, testing new methods, cracking new (and old) problems, and guiding new technologies to the market.
Of course, in a nation like this there’s always a place for more people like that. So if you think you are leader, go for it. Be bold. Be creative.
I aspire to a sort of leadership, too. There are lots of positive developments underway in the industry, and my responsibility is to convey that progress to readers. That’s part of our agenda. A more important part is projecting valuable ideas to metalcasters looking for new direction, to ensure the success of their enterprises.
The key to our enterprise being successful is identifying what our readers will want to read, and what they’ll need to know. So if you have an idea, tell us about it. If you know something or someone that needs our attention, let us know, too. We want to help inspire good work and good ideas. We want to help identify goals and highlight achievements. So join us, and we will.