Hunt spends roughly half her time on security matters and the other half on general corporate affairs. She has not yet encountered anyone who performs her role at another company. Williams hasn't either. "[The security department] is one of the best internal clients I have ever had. You know what you're going to get when you work with them," she says. Williams is a straightforward guy, pleasant to work for, requiring little second guessing on strategy or tactics. "He values communication, which makes my work more effective for Caterpillar and more fulfilling for me personally," says Hunt.
5. Nurture dissent. File this one under easy to say, hard to do. Williams encourages his staff to bring honest disagreement to the table--respectfully, of course--whenever it comes up. "He's very open," says Frank. "He is open to the opinions of others."
"On our teams, we have direct, crucial conversations," says Williams.
"We have respect, but we get the conversations on the table. I solicit people to challenge management. That is so critical. It creates much better decisions when people can respectfully and openly challenge assumptions, thinking and decisions." Giblin, for example, may disagree on how certain processes and protocols are implemented in his region, and he feels comfortable letting Williams and the rest of the team know. Like Williams, he encourages his staff to bring up differing points of view.
It's not just disagreeing; anyone can say they don't agree. "People should point out if they think we should look at something from a different perspective. It's healthy to have differing opinions on issues--it keeps us away from the traps of groupthink--and keeps all of us focused. It happens every week."
At Caterpillar, the voice of the individual is important--maybe moreso than at most companies--though in some regions, that can be tricky. In most countries, "there still is a gap between what people think and what they feel comfortable saying," says Williams. "What they do want is the opportunity to influence decisions."
No matter where Caterpillar employees are located, they have at least one thing in common: the knowledge that the company's whole is more important than its individual members. Williams learned this the hard way when he praised one of his regional security directors for a job well done. The executive almost resigned because he felt the credit should go to his team.