PSA TEC 2017 | Leadership Committee Session Summaries

June 12, 2017

PSA TEC 2017 was an amazing conference with top-notch quality education. Some of the most productive and well-attended sessions were hosted and delivered by PSA Committees. The PSA Leadership Committee hosted two education sessions: Leadership Lessons Learned and Create a Shared Purpose. These panel sessions were delivered by industry experts and peers who shared their experiences and insights into being better leaders in their organizations and in the industry.

Leadership Lessons Learned

The first PSA Leadership Committee panel session was 'Leadership Lessons Learned'. Many of us have encountered natural leaders. These are people who instinctively do the right thing and effortlessly turn others from good to exceptional. For many of us, leadership is something we must work on. This extraordinary panel of leaders and industry experts shared some of their top lessons learned during their careers as leaders in the physical security industry.

Moderating the panel was Paul Cronin, industry consultant. The panel consisted of Phil Aronson, President & CEO of Aronson Security Group, Christine Lanning, President of Integrated Security Technologies, Ric McCullough, VP of Sales & Customer Service for PSA Security Network, and Scott Ranger, Vice President of Operations for CONTAVA.

Moderator Paul Cronin began the discussion with the age-old question regarding leaders, which was posed to our panel “Are leaders born or bred?” Phil Aronson responded that he feels that a leader is someone who gets others to follow them; a person who is passionate about being a leader, therefore can learn to be a better or more effective leader. Ric McCullough responded that he felt leaders were both born and bred. McCullough discussed the days when he witnessed others learning to be leaders during a time he worked at a start-up company. McCullough shared his colleagues lack of leadership skills at the beginning and the leaders they eventually became by the end of his employment with this company. Christine Lanning referred to leaders like a piggy bank – you can add or take away. They can learn new skills through education or experience, or they can be a person in a position with a title or authority that is not necessarily a leader.

Next, Cronin asked the panel to discuss charisma’s role on leadership. Charisma is defined as a compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. Scott Ranger discussed experiences throughout his life where he encountered people who have natural charisma. During sports and in his educational experiences growing up, Ranger saw many step-up to the role of the leader because of their natural ability to lead along with their charisma. Phil Aronson felt that charisma is a form of measurement of our leaders – leaders need charisma to be a true leader.

Cronin questioned the panel about the differences between management and leadership. Lanning referred to HBR’s (Harvard Business Review) definition: “Leadership refers to an individual’s ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success.” McCullough said every company needs both managers and leaders – those who will perform a job and others who will inspire and motivate employees. Aronson agreed and said at ASG (Aronson Security Group) it is not about a position or title – anyone can be a leader. Ranger discussed having hired a subordinate a few years ago that he felt in the interview process was going to be a great leader for the company and his team. Shortly after this subordinate had started, it became apparent to Ranger that this employee was simply a manager that Scott had to spend a lot of his own time managing rather than this employee taking ownership and being a leader. Aronson added, “air on the side of caution when you have a situation where a manager has a leader under them.”

Cronin asked the panel to think of two attributes they felt were most important in leaders. Lanning replied, “humility and trust.” Lanning felt that without being humble and developing trust, there is no one to follow and therefore you are not a leader. Scott Ranger felt that authenticity, or being genuine, and vulnerability were important attributes in a leader. Leaders need to have an open-door policy and not be deceptive with employees. He also felt that while opening yourself up to possible exposure was a risk, it was an important factor in developing trust. During this discussion, the audience discovered that McCullough is passionate about passion! McCullough stated, “Passion binds vision with purpose.” Leaders also must possess the ability to influence and invigorate others. If a leader has passion then that leads into the ability to influence and invigorate others – passion is contagious. Cronin closed this portion of the panel discussion with his important attributes being integrity and forward looking. Cronin stated that integrity is doing the right thing, even if no one is watching. and equally as important is to always be looking and thinking forward.

Cronin asked the panel to share a story that helped shape them to the leaders they are today. This was the heart of the panel discussion of Leadership Lessons Learned. McCullough returned to his story of when he worked for the start-up company and was managing the production floor. One of the employees had suddenly passed away during the peak production time and this employee was a vital piece of the puzzle of success. McCullough described the difficulty as a leader in discovering the importance of the balance of work with compassion for others and the ability to grieve. Aronson discussed taking over his family’s business and how he needed to reinvent ASG. In 2000, Aronson decided to change ASG from lock and door hardware to security. This was a huge challenge and change for Phil to take his family’s business and to change the model. The challenges along the way taught Phil what leadership is all about. Ranger circled back to the difficult employee he had hired a few years ago. Scott was discussing this employee with a friend and mentor of his that is an executive for a large fast-food restaurant. The advice that Scott’s mentor passed along was to listen to the team and what they were saying about their manager Ranger had just hired. Ranger discussed this was his moment when he discovered the “Platinum Rule”. Ranger says the Golden Rule we all know is: “treat others as you want to be treated,” however the Platinum Rule is “treat others how they want to be treated.” Lanning shared a time in 2013 when she had to go out and sell a job, a task that her husband typically would do. Christine said she never felt she was good at the “elevator pitch” until she was forced to give the pitch because her husband was unable to at the time. She then discovered that she is unique and we all have our own unique selves – this is where her “elevator pitch” was born. Sell your unique self!

Cronin posed the question to the panel, “Are leaders always right?” Aronson felt that you know you are a leader if people feel comfortable enough to approach you and tell you, “you are wrong.” Phil stressed the importance of teamwork and to let everyone feel comfortable working together and helping each other become better individuals. “It’s okay to be wrong.” Ranger also felt that collaboration and teamwork is the key. Leaders do not have to be right, you just need the right people on your team. Lanning answered with a great question herself,“Is being right important?” Closing the discussion, Phil Aronson stated, “Determine the leader you want to be and have peers to learn together with.”

Create a Shared Purpose

The second PSA Leadership Committee panel at PSA TEC 2017 was 'Create a Shared Purpose'. It’s no secret that generations in the workplace are very different. They are motivated differently, they communicate differently, and they make decisions differently. Conscious capitalism, where companies focus on delivering long-term value through purpose, passion and shared ideals, is the long-game strategy to attracting today’s top talent. Where are you leading people? We study, read articles, and discuss how to be a leader regularly, yet we  seldom discuss where your leadership is taking those you are leading. The purpose of leadership is to inspire people to achieving something. Is that something inspirational? Does it have meaning?  This panel had great dialog regarding motivating different generations in the workplace.

Moderating this panel was Paul Boucherle, Principal at Matterhorn Consulting. The panel consisted of Brian Boucherle, Sales Consultant at Safe Systems, Inc., Shaun Castillo, President of Preferred Technologies, LLC, Christine Lanning, President of Integrated Security Technologies, and Bruce Pontier, Vice President & Regional General Manager at Securadyne Systems.

Prior to this session, each panelist was asked to identify the differences between generations and their motivations, communication tactics, and decision-making habits. They were also asked to evaluate different methods used in overseeing multiple generations in the workplace.

Moderator Paul Boucherle discussed with the audience the benefits of having a shared purpose, which may include clarity of an organization’s vision, role clarity, role responsibilities, values awareness, team engagement, and talent retention. However, generations in today’s workplace are motivated differently than in the past. Each panelist shared their perspectives on their personal key motivators. Much to the surprise to the audience and panel, most of them shared similarities as well as having differences in perspectives. Brian Boucherle, the youngest on the panel, shared that the biggest motivators he felt within his generation were gaining experiences and feelings of personal achievement.

Paul noted that communication is the glue that binds a company together in pursuit of purpose. The panel was asked, “What common communication characteristics, styles, and meanings are associated with the generation they are a part of today?” Shaun Castillo viewed company culture as the significant element to connecting communication and motivation at Preferred Technologies. Castillo feels that if you hire individuals who are well-matched to a company culture, the cohesion amongst employees increases. Lanning agreed that to be successful with multiple generations in the workplace, it has everything to do with cooperation, and less to do with age differences. Lanning noted that she has found in her experience the younger generations are very eager to be leaders, especially when they believe they are capable of being a leader with their company’s support.

Some of the major differences amongst the generations represented on this panel had more to do with communication mediums – older generations prefer telephone conversations, and face-to-face interactions over email or text messages. These differences also exist within generations, not just across them. Other generational differencesin today’s workplace are critical thinking and decision-making differences.

What we learned from this great session was – if you are trying to create a shared purpose in your organization – treat people as individuals, do not stereotype, and find your similarities!