Welcome to Learn from Leaders. If you missed my post last month, I explained that each month we’re interviewing the leader of a successful organization and sharing some of their best advice with you. For my first post, I’d like to introduce you to Scott Becker, President and CEO of Chromaflo.
Chromaflo is the world leader in liquid color technology for use in paint, coatings, and thermoset plastics. What does that mean exactly? Well, if you’ve ever been in a paint store and saw the person behind the counter dispensing those little liquid colors into a paint can, there’s a good chance Chromaflo made them.
You don’t have to interact with Scott for very long to realize that one of the biggest reasons behind Chromaflo’s success is his leadership. He’s taken the company through several mergers and acquisitions, as well as changes in ownership structures, and it’s all led to unprecedented growth. What are his keys to success? According to Scott, it comes down to passion and energy — two traits he radiates.
“You have to believe in yourself and your vision,” says Scott. “And you have to be willing to learn.” He explains that he not only leads people by using these traits, but when he hires new staff, that’s also what he looks for. “When you’re surrounded by passion and energy, it’s infectious,” he adds.
I couldn’t agree more.
If I had to guess what triggered Scott’s passion and energy at Chromaflo, I’d guess it’s the fact that he started his career as a color matcher in the lab (and by the way, at the time, he had zero knowledge in the world of color). Scott worked hard and demonstrated a willingness to learn and was eventually promoted to technical service, then into sales and marketing, then into management, and now he runs a global enterprise. You see, he invested himself in the business of colorants a long time ago. His fingerprints are all over Chromaflo. He created Chromaflo. How could he not have passion for it?
In some ways, I can relate to Scott’s story. When I started at Plante Moran out of college, the firm had a few hundred staff members and just a couple offices. In fact, our Ann Arbor office where I started, had less than 10 people. Today, the firm has more than 3,100 staff and 24 offices. It’s been incredible to be a part of this growth, and it’s fueled my passion for the business. When you feel a part of something, you’re energized by its success and become dedicated to its future.
So what’s my takeaway from Scott? When you lead, lead with passion. Others will follow — and when they do, make them part of the journey. Like Scott says, passion and energy are infectious. In the end, it leads to more success for you and your team.
More from Scott
While Scott’s passion and energy resonated most with me during our conversation, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include his thoughts on a few other topics:
On doing business internationally
“The world has globalized. If you’re not internationally aware, you could be caught off guard. What’s transpiring in one part of the world will eventually affect you your part of the world. Being globally aware allows you to anticipate trends that are arising and adjust so that you’re ahead of that curve rather than behind it.”
On personal networks
“Relationships define successful businesses, and face-to-face meeting time is essential. In 2016, I traveled 160 days, just to have that human interaction with customers. Additionally, all of our acquisitions have come about through the relationships I’ve built with the business owners. Because of this, I don’t end up in a bidding war, and I can transact the business within the time frame that I want to operate in.”
On vision and risk
“Without a vision of what might be, you’re left with small incremental changes. I’ve never been one to be energized by incremental changes. Instead, I opt to be bold and embrace risk. But you have to be convinced you’re doing the right thing and then put in the time and effort to make that vision a reality.”
Leadership personality profile
Your leadership approach in one word: Transformational
The leadership quality you most admire in others: Challenging the status quo
Your best piece of business advice: Take calculated risks
What you look for when you hire: Passion
To be an effective leader, you cannot… think that details are less important.