PESA Advisory Board Member D. Lyle Williams, Senior Vice President, Operations, Forum Energy Technologies, shared his thoughts and insights on leadership and personal growth during a forum on September 17.
Williams discussed his background beginning in 2007, when he started at Forum Energy Technologies as a manufacturing/operations member on the M&A team after several years in the drilling business at Cameron. Forum was a small company, just out of start-up mode. During his first year, Forum acquired eight companies on top of the four already in place. Forum expanded further through downhole acquisitions and eventually completed 45 acquisitions, developing Forum to be a well-rounded drilling and subsea, completions, production and infrastructure company.
Williams said he had the opportunity to grow the company by organizing operations and finance teams. By serving in many roles, he was able to see all aspects of the business at both Forum and Cameron. When asked how he got up to speed so quickly when moving from role to role, he said, “It is about talking to the people who do the work. They will tell you what is going well and what is not going well, then I can study the data to create a picture of what they just said. You can always find it in the data.”
What makes Williams a good leader? He said by focusing on the purpose of a team and making their jobs be about more than meeting a number, team members can have fun and be successful.
Williams said he has a plan, communicates the plan, then he is very open and honest with communication. As an employee, Williams said he likes to follow someone who values people on their team.
“The best leaders care and want you to be successful and prosperous,” Williams said.
Williams prefers to create teams with people who have a variety of strengths and weaknesses. As a leader, he identifies the top strengths and value of each person on the team. Having a team with different strengths is important. He highly recommended StrengthsFinder as a tool to build a stronger team.
“If you are the leader and someone is not participating, it’s your job to get them involved. They may be right and don’t let one person or the rest of the team shut them down,” he said.
Williams was asked what lessons he has learned from legacy cultures. He said M&A and integration is hard. Companies need to decide on their core values and then implement them right away. By figuring out what is important, the company can get through the painful part of integration faster. Acquisitions are a great way to grow, he said.
Williams Leadership Lessons
- Take advantage of senior mentors within the industry or company.
- Holding a variety of roles within the same company creates endless learning opportunities. Take advantage of all learning opportunities.
- Everyone was created as unique individuals. There are no two people with the same attributes, skills, capabilities or experiences. One will be better at being who they are than being someone else.
- Everyone has more ability to grow by focusing on developing strengths and not weaknesses. The book “StrengthsFinder2.0” is a great tool to learn more about one’s strengths.
- There is a greater purpose for everyone beyond the business and paycheck. Think about what the industry has done and what greater purpose looks like, such as the revolution in the shale industry in the U.S. and across the world. If you are not sure what your greater purpose is, then figure it out by talking to other people and senior mentors.
Leadership forums allow Member Company high performers to interact with industry executives through open dialogue structured around a targeted theme. Check the PESA event listings to see when the next forum is scheduled.