This is One Impressive Cat: The Leadership of Doug Oberhelman

Caterpillar is an unlikely darling. We all know that technology is where it’s at, not heavy industry. Don’t tell that to Doug Oberhelman, CEO of Caterpillar. Under his leadership the company has thrived through the current recession.

Doug led a team during a boom cycle in 2005 that put together a strategy on how to deal with a huge downturn in sales. While extremely unpopular at the time, it turned out to be exactly the right thing to do. In November 2008 sales plummeted and the strategy was quickly executed in order to stay ahead of the downturn. This prepared Caterpillar for the next up-cycle—one that is currently underway.

Under Oberhelman’s leadership, Caterpillar recently completed the $8.8B acquisition of Bucyrus, a manufacturer of complementary heavy machinery as well as several other smaller acquisitions. Determined to make the most of this recession, he’s investing in new plants, hiring workers, bringing manufacturing back to the US where the customers are, and scratching to gain market share while others sit on hoards of cash and continue to lay workers off. This takes courage.

If you listen to Doug Oberhelman’s words and observe his actions you’ll notice something—his forward-moving energy is palpable. There’s a lot we can learn from Doug. Let’s look at his behavior:
• Focused on the customer (he visits at least one customer a week)
• Is optimistic about the market and paranoid about competitors
• Maintains a good balance between people and tasks
• Communicates, communicates, and communicates even more
• Focuses on moving forward while learning from the past

Keywords: leadership, balance, strategy, communication

Share on Facebook