"It seemed kind of interesting that every six to eight months I was moved to a new role without knowing about it until I showed up," Green said during our Executive Q&A interview published in the business section of Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer. "When I was 27 that was my first opportunity to go lead a rather large group. I was asked to go run our Canadian company and I had no idea what a country manager meant. I didn't know that it existed. The next day I was on a plane and I went up there and met the team. We had phenomenal success.
I didn't know what I was doing.
Well, that's happened throughout my whole career.
Well, I don't look at age. I look at capabilities. I would tell you one of the teachings that I had at a very young age from some mentors from other companies who kind of took me under their wing: `You have to surround yourself with the best.' So, if you'd walk into a management meeting at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning, here in Exton and look around the table, you're going to see that each and every individual on my team is smarter, better, more knowledgeable throughout their areas than I would ever be.
The way it started was we went to Toronto, my wife and I. My wife was unable to work because of the visa situation. I was running Sigma Canada. It was a rather small, decent-sized entity. She belonged to a local charity group that had other ex-pat spouses participating, and they were much older than she was too. We just started to get invited to a lot of different events and dinners and to get to know people. And, I'm a big believer in asking questions and learning from others. So, we had folks that were running companies like Wal-Mart, Chrysler.
So, they'll ask you what you do. Immediately, I'll answer quickly about what we do and what the firm represents, how we service our customers. Then immediately I'll flip it and start asking questions like, `When you took over your role, what were one or two of the most troubling things you had to face immediately. What were the big questions that you were trying to address?'
You start asking questions about how they took the journey they've taken. You'd know a little bit about their business before you walk in there, enough to understand if they altered the course of the business. `How did you make that decision? What drove you to that decision? How did you get the team to support that? Then, how did you get the organization further?' I mean all of the employees have to rally behind [changes], because if you don't have the whole team behind you, it's a pretty tough battle. That's where I would take the opportunity to learn from multiple industries.
One thing I learned a long time ago, again from another individual, is that you walk into a site and you start having management meetings. They sequester you in a conference room.
I always ask the leaders and say, `Let's just you and I go for a walk. Let's just get out of here for a minute and we'll walk through the plant.' You can tell quickly how they interact with the employees.