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Leadership Challenges in the Energy Industry: Part 1 – The Challenges: Sherri Hilton

These translations are done via Google Translate

 The Challenges – by Sherri Hilton  MAL, CEC, PCC

“The times they are a changing.” This is the title of the famous 1964 Bob Dylan song and words that are just as, if not more,  relevant in 2018 as they were then. Leaders in today’s energy industry are surrounded by constant change, disruption, innovation and increasing demands on their time, energy, attention, resources and capacity. But the truth is this. Things will never be as slow as they are today. Stop and think about that for a moment.  The speed at which you get information, face disruption, change and have to make decisions is only going to increase. So what does this mean for you as a leader in 2018? How do you want to show up, lead others, navigate the challenges, and leverage the opportunities that surround you? Ideally, what will 2018 and beyond look like for you and your leadership?


No discussion on leadership would be complete without asking the question, “How do we define a “leader?” By simple definition, a “leader” is “a person who leads or commands a group, company, organization, or even a country.” By extension of the word leader, “leadership” is defined as the “action of leading that same group, company organization or country.” As is evidenced in the styles of the current President of the United States, versus the Canadian Prime Minister, leadership can look very different from leader to leader.  Often if we are asked to think of a leader, we tend to conjure up images of the strong CEO or the savvy, seasoned business owner. The reality is that leaders and “up and coming” leaders exist at all levels. Whether you are a CEO, a division manager, a team leader, sales manager, a not-for-profit leader, have just a few direct reports or aspire to move up in your company or organization, you undoubtedly strive to be the best leader you can be, do the right thing, deliver exceptional results and at the same time, are faced with challenges, issues, and the “changing times.” How you show you are a good leader (or have the potential to be one), how to be a good leader and the challenges and issues of leadership issues exist in all industries, including the energy industry. However, one thing remains true for all leaders. Great leadership, at any level or in any industry, begins with a strong foundation of self- awareness and clarity around who you are, why you want to lead, what you stand for and the impact you have on those around you.  This strong foundation encompasses your values, beliefs, attitudes, strengths and weaknesses.

Who is Challenging You?

There’s a story told of a Russian priest traveling by foot in the country on a dirt road in pre-revolutionary Russia. Out of nowhere a soldier on horseback comes galloping toward him, stops abruptly and shouts “You, priest. Stop. Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there?” The priest looks up at the soldier and says “My son. How much do they pay you to ask these questions?” The soldier shouts, “They pay me fifteen kopeks a month.” The priest smiles and replies, “I would pay you fifteen kopeks a day for questions as important as this.”

Although most leaders are not so fortunate to have someone asking them those important questions on a regular basis, we will over the months ahead, explore valuable perspectives, insights, and research that will help you to examine your  “foundation,” your impact, and your leadership. When was the last time you reflected on how you are showing up as a leader? The impact your leadership has on those you lead? How often do you ask for feedback from others to help you grow? How often do you challenge yourself to learn something new? Step out of your comfort zone to evolve and advance your leadership? How aware are you of your behaviours that are contributing to your success as a leader, your team, your organization or those that are holding you and ultimately your organization back?

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Research shows that as leaders advance in their careers and rise “higher” in their organizations, people are much less likely to provide honest and valuable feedback. As a result, leaders can find themselves surrounded by people who are unwilling to provide them with the very information they need to be better leaders. In other words, people only tell  their leader what they think their leader wants to hear. Often the very strengths and behaviours that contribute to the success and “rise” of a leader, at some point can also be a detriment to continued success. As Marshall Goldsmith, a world renowned executive coach says, “what got you here won’t get you there.

My upcoming series of articles will examine the challenges and opportunities leaders face every day (some of them unique to the energy industry) and how leaders can improve and better prepare themselves to face these challenges, embrace the opportunities and ultimately make better decisions for themselves, their teams and their organizations. Yes, “the times they are a changing.” Are you equipped to manage them?

About Sherri Hilton

Sherri Hilton is a Senior Leader with a North American based financial institution and also a private leadership coach for leaders in both the United States and Canada.

Sherri has a proven track record of helping leaders achieve personal excellence, build strong relationships with others and positively impact and contribute to the success of their organizations.  As an experienced and highly skilled executive coach, Sherri has worked successfully worked with business owners, leaders and upwardly mobile professionals in a wide range of industries including education, health, construction, oil and gas and finance.

She has more than 20 years of experience in individual and group coaching, leadership and organizational development, advanced facilitation and public speaking. These experiences have provided Sherri with both the expertise and deep knowledge of organizational dynamics and systems and a genuine understanding of the many opportunities and challenges of leadership.


Sherri has both a Masters degree in Leadership and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching and holds a PCC level of accreditation through the global International Coach Federation (ICF), in which she is an active member, She is also certified in a number of leadership development assessments and tools, including Emotional Intelligence 360, The Leadership Circle 360, Meyers Briggs Type Inventory, Korn Ferry Voices 360 and Personality Dimensions.

Join Sherri at on Linkedin at Sherri Hilton Linkedin

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