One of the biggest struggles for any leader is showing their team and the world who they are.

At first, I was misled by the notion I had to be tough and not show any real emotions. I should not show when I was feeling low or had any doubts. I believed that I could be discouraged even though there were plenty of reasons to be. I had to be tough at all times. There were two different Bills – a public Bill my team saw and a private Bill my friends and family knew.

To take my new leadership job, I left my girlfriend behind in Arizona.

She was still in college and had another year before she could consider moving. Little did I know it, but my team knew when she was coming to visit and when she was not. I should have known better – it is not possible to hide the obvious excitement I had.

As time went by, I found myself sharing more about myself – my passions, my strengths and my weaknesses.

I took care to not over share but I did share with my team my concern that one day the powers that be would decide to shut down our facility. We had not been a top performer for quite some time and there were other facilities that could do the same work we did. While the leadership team glowed when they discussed other departments’ achievements, they seemed to be negative when it came to us.

In a moment of bravery, I stood before them and announced that we would become the place our customers and the leadership team wanted to make optics. Some were aghast at my bold statement, others thought it was a pipe dream and the rest bought in. It is unrealistic to expect buy in with any progress. It is unrealistic to expect every team member to buy in. For some team members, it is a victory to have them not stand in the way much less work hard to make a bold vision become reality.

An opportunity arose to solidify the team and make a giant leap forward.

One of our sister facilities, the largest capacity by far, decided to stop make manufacturing certain components. With their departure, we would be the only facility making them. We needed to triple or quadruple production to meet demand. It was the kind of challenge a team needed to take on and be successful with. It was a game changer. For us, this was a do or die situation. If we did not succeed, it would be unlikely we would taken seriously. Modern manufacturing equipment is designed to transported with ease and minimal risk. It is far easier to restructure and move equipment across an ocean than most people know.

I met with my supervisors and area experts. A plan was created. Every aspect from what was needed first to who was likely to not help or stand in the way. In just 6 weeks, the team most people had almost given up on, tripled production while improving yield 5%.

It all started when I let my guard down and shared myself. They bought into me as a person AND a leader.

Image source: Photographer: Tom Pumford   Website: