18 Jul How To Sharpen Your Leadership Skills And Grow Your Business
Successful CEOs like Elon Musk of Tesla and Larry Page of Google often talk about the importance of multidisciplinary skills, but what does this look like in practice?
Mark Caswell is the CEO of KSM Consulting, a technology, data and management firm. This Indianapolis-based company employs more than 130 people. Caswell previously worked as a mechanical engineer for Rolls Royce on technology that won’t reach the market for “another 10 or 15 years.”
While working as an engineer, Caswell completed a computer science degree, wrote software and acquired project management and business leadership skills. Later, he pursued an MBA in Madrid. Caswell believes studied concepts from different disciplines improved his leadership style.
Hone Your Softer Skill Sets
Many CEOs must speak in front of their colleagues, peers and investors. However, public speaking terrified Caswell. Before a big speech to the U.S. Air Force, he spent hours driving around the interstate practicing his material.
“When I got out of school, frankly I was terrified to speak in front of other folks. I would tend to get shaky and muddle my words together,” he says.
Caswell practiced public speaking extensively as part of a leadership training program at Rolls Royce. He says: “Today, it is one of the things I enjoy most. I think it is an asset, being able to speak to others and inspire others.”
Embrace Systems Thinking
Systems thinking means reflecting on how the parts within a larger whole work together. For example, an economist considers the underlying factors behind a bull market, such as government policy, employment and interest rates.
A doctor examines a patient’s blood pressure, heart rate and other vital signs before making an initial diagnosis. In business, systems thinking means considering how people, technology and other processes work together. For example, the leader approaches a business problem with the mindset of an engineer.
Caswell explains: “It allows you to see patterns and build solutions. It also helps you appreciate that complexity is a part of life and not necessarily something frustrating to deal with, and so you can own that complexity and think about it in a way that’s fun to deal with.”