Dolf Kahle Leadership

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Leader Overview– Dolf Kahle

I decided to interview my father for this journal because he is a leader in many different aspects of his career. He is the owner, CEO, and founder of Visual Marking System, Inc. (VMS), which is a large, turnkey industrial printing company that focuses on several niches. He serves on several industry round tables, was president of SGIA (the industry’s trade organization) for two years, and collaborates with his competition constantly in order to innovate the industrial printing industry. He is an avid practitioner of lean manufacturing and publishes a quarterly column in Smart Business Cleveland Magazine.

Interview Summery

Q: What is your philosophy of leadership or your approach to leading? To managing?

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You need to trust and be patient with the people you manage. It builds motivation. You also need to be easy to get along with. It is a simple question; “Do the people you work with want to work with you everyday?” The answer to this question must be yes in order to be an effective leader.

Q: What skills are necessary for effective leadership?

Dolf believes that servant leadership is one of the keys to success. You have to be able to identify the needs and even the wants of your employees, so that they are as efficient and effective as possible. Team leadership is also huge. This goes back to the last question where Dolf said you have to be easy to get along with. It is all about being a part of the “in-group”. In order to do that, you have to control your emotions and be likeable.

Q: Are you aware of the Five Practices of the Leadership Challenge? How do you: Model The Way, Create a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act and Encourage the
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However, after explaining them, he said that he is definitely aware of the importance of these five practices. He believes that strategic planning is the key to this. You have to work with your management team to create a SMART strategic plan. When the strategic plan is effective and attainable, everything falls into place, as it should.

Q: How do you deal with conflict as a manager?

Dolf makes individuals face their conflicts. When two people have a conflict, he makes them sit down and hash it out. He does not believe that it is healthy for two employees to have a conflict. They have to sit down and take it out in order to move on and work together in the future.

Q: How do you motivate team members? What are your methods for building a strong team?

VMS has many different incentives and employee engagement programs. They have annual bonuses, commission programs for sales people, 50/50 raffles, company parties, and a weeklong spirit week. The spirit week is great for building team camaraderie. There are rope pulling competitions, corn hole tournaments, eating competitions, and many other activities. Different department compete against each other and everyone has a great time. It is very

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