Bob Chalker on Uncommon Leadership for Uncommon Times

Wednesday’s leadership seminar at the 2023 AMPP Annual Conference + Expo kicked off with an insightful presentation from Bob Chalker, CEO of AMPP, about leading during challenging times.

According to Chalker, it will be “more the norm for business leaders than the exception” to face crises and challenges as leaders. “The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Are you ready for what’s going to be thrown at you?’”

During his tenure, Chalker led the association—first, legacy NACE International, and now the Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP)—through many challenges and crises. These included drop in oil prices in 2014, which affected the organization through 2016; Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area in 2017; and eventually, the COVID-19 pandemic and the merger between NACE and SSPC.

Chalker explained the four pillars that people need to think about for their organization: leadership, culture, processes, and ethics. He then shared his principles of leadership, which are important because, per Chalker, they let “your people know what to expect of you.”

These six principles include listening, integrity, trusting and being trustworthy, and honesty. Other principles are knowing “there’s a time to cut and go” (or worded differently, good enough is good enough), and taking responsibility for your work (both good and bad). By adhering to these principles, Chalker has been able to create a healthy work environment, in turn leading to better decisions being made by staff.

Chalker concluded by sharing a few challenges on the horizon that he believes the organization will need to navigate. The first challenge is artificial intelligence, which he views as both a threat and an opportunity for the association. The next challenge is ethics in general.

The last challenge he shared is the rapid change in technology, which will affect jobs and companies. Thus, the association will need to adapt to keep up with the changes. By adhering to your principles and planning ahead, leaders will be able to successfully navigate these and any other challenges they face.

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