Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Monday, March 31, 2014, 3:55 AM
Don Lewis

You know what scares CEOs? They are petrified that they aren't going to find out something important about their companies because they are too sheltered by the people who directly report to them. They experience constant tension between the responsibilities of their position and, in many cases, the desire to be directly in contact with the most basic operations of their organizations and the people doing them.

"It’s one of things I have the biggest difficulty with because it’s one of the things I love," said Donald Lewis, president of SCA Americas, headquartered in Philadelphia. Its parent is a global Swedish company that sells napkins, diapers, adult incontinence products and feminine hygiene products worldwide. Lewis supervises 8,000 of the company's 44,000 employees and his territory encompasses 5,000 miles from Canada to South America.  

"I get energy two ways, being in front of employees and being in front of customers and I need that as fuel," Lewis said during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. "If I’m stuck in an office too long and I don’t get to do one of those things, I’m not my best. One gives me a view from the inside and one gives me a view from the outside."

POSTED: Friday, March 28, 2014, 12:57 PM
Executives give back to the community. The rest of us volunteer or donate.
POSTED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 2:45 AM
Drexel University President John A. Fry (( April Saul / Staff Photographer ) )

A real trick in leadership is knowing when to quit and a real hazard is hanging in too long.

A common mistake chief executives make is "when things start to go wrong, not being constructively critical enough to say, `This isn’t the right path. This isn’t working,' even if you have an investment in it," Drexel University president John A. Fry said during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Inquirer.

Leaders have to not be afraid to say, `You know what, I’m going to have to declare a mistake,  and get out early, because I don’t like the way this is going," he said, "as opposed to  letting your ego drive you forward to inevitable defeat, thinking that you could have fixed it, when you already sort of knew that it wasn’t headed in the right direction."

POSTED: Monday, March 24, 2014, 2:40 AM
Drexel president John A. Fry (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

Lots of stuff is written about leadership, but there's one way to see whether you have what it takes.

"Try it," said Drexel University president John A. Fry during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. "Find a place to lead and start to lead. If there’s a void, fill it.

"I don’t think you can learn leadership from reading books or attending lectures. In your community, if you are a student at Drexel, or someone living in Mantua and there’s an issue that you are not happy with and there’s a group forming to deal with it, get involved. Pick a spot. Be a leader and see what your constitution is like for leadership because leadership is a really hard and difficult thing to do.

POSTED: Thursday, March 20, 2014, 11:25 AM

I don't care about March Madness. I don't care if billions of employees are or aren't productive during March Madness. I don't care if human resource experts believe or don't believe it builds worker morale. If people at work want to discuss how teams are doing or set up pools, that's fine, or it's not. If bosses don't like March Madness, just say no. That's what it means to be a boss. Or ignore it. Whatever you do or don't do, good for you. It really doesn't matter.

What matters is that people are paid decently for their whole-hearted efforts at work, that they are respected on the job and that they respect the job, and also that they have safe, clean and comfortable places to work. Anything else is actual madness, and not just in March. 

POSTED: Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 3:10 AM

Many people, including CEOs, credit their summer jobs -- many of them in the restaurant business -- with teaching them important lessons about customer service.

Christopher Kneizys, president of Micro-Coax, a cable manufacturer, in Limerick, had a different take on his experience working at a McDonald's:

"The interesting thing about McDonald’s which is very relevant to what we do here is process control," he said during our Leadership Agenda interview published in Monday's Inquirer. "I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but everything was done a certain way. There is a definite process to make a Big Mac. You put the meat on the grill. Five seconds later the searing timer goes off. Everything, it’s one shot of the secret sauce or whatever, or it was just the process."

POSTED: Monday, March 17, 2014, 3:50 AM
Christopher J. Kneizys , president and CEO of Micro-Coax Inc., in Pottstown, shows a Swiss CNC screw machine, which cuts parts for the connectors that the company makes. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

Christopher J. Kneizys was 31 years old when he took over the helm at Micro-Coax Inc., a cable manufacturer in Pottstown. Almost the first thing he did was lay people off. 

Great start, I said to him during our Leadership Agenda interview, published in Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer. Kneizys definitely had an uphill road when he became chief executive in 1992. First of all, he was 31. Second of all, in a company that relies on engineering and technology, he followed two presidents who had both been engineers.

"I knew how the business worked, but I knew nothing about engineering or how the products worked," he said, "and so, the first thing is to get the business financially sound. It was marginally profitable, so we had to reduce the headcount."

POSTED: Thursday, March 13, 2014, 5:38 PM
((AP Photo/Jason Reed, pool)

Here are President Obama's remarks on overtime. The worker mentioned as an example is Nancy Minor, vice president of Local 10-1 of the United Steel Workers in Philadelphia. Minor was very involved in helping the steelworkers save jobs when the Sunoco refineries were closing.

The event took place Thursday afternoon in the East Room of the White House and Minor was there.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody, thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Please.  Thank you, guys.  Please have a seat. 

Well, welcome to the White House.  Before I get started, I just want to acknowledge somebody who is working so hard on behalf of America’s workers each and every day, our outstanding Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez.  So give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  There you go.  Tom must have brought some of his family with him.  (Laughter.)

About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer