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7 Questions with Kyle Johnson

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Jonno White

7 Questions with Kyle Johnson

Name: Kyle Johnson

Current title: Executive Vice President / Chief Operating Officer (retired)

Current organisation: Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, LLC

Kyle Johnson is an Operations Executive with broad business, organization, strategic, and technical skill sets. Mr Johnson has over 35 years of leadership and expertise in organization and personnel management, contract management, operations, safety, dispute resolution, and executive leadership. Previously Executive Vice President / Chief Operating Officer and Chief Contract Manager at Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, LLC. Mr Johnson now provides advisory services in positive organization management, contract management, claims & dispute resolution, and employee safety & mental health to the marine, construction and engineering industries via his firm KDJay Group, Inc.

7 Questions with Kyle Johnson

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1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

Managing acquisitions and divestments. I think I have learned much of what not to do in this department.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

The old fashioned way. I moved up through the ranks and either led or performed nearly every operations function. It also helpful was working abroad, working with other companies (either directly or in joint ventures) and advancing my education.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

As Chief Operating Officer, my days were generally structured around the needs of organization on that particular day -- department meetings, bid reviews, safety meetings, "emergency" actions and decisions, and travel to sites.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

As a leader, your most valuable asset is your "street cred". Lose that and you will lose the support of the organization from entry level to the Board of Directors. Thus, you have to lead by example, especially on safety, executive "perks", and personnel management.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The Art and Science of Negotiation. Every business (and even personal) interaction involves some level of negotiation. And one more -- "The Elements of Style". This is the definitive little book on writing concisely.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

Ensure a robust and formal entry level hiring, on-boarding, and personnel advancement process led by the relevant operations department. Do not rely on, nor abdicate, hiring, training and personnel advancement to your Human Resources department!

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

Some years ago, my executive supervisor told me "if you need to remove a superior executive from the Company, shoot for the head -- and don't miss".