At Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS), we know that great leaders deliver better results and have more engaged and effective teams. Learn why leadership training is so important from Katie Ball, director of leadership development and training.
Katie is originally from Baltimore, Md., and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2002. She served as a surface warfare officer (SWO) on active duty until 2009 and then again in 2013-2014, with multiple deployments in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean. She continues to serve in the U.S. Navy Reserves as a human resource (HR) officer and will be assuming the role of commanding officer of the Expeditionary Combat Readiness Command Center in Gulfport, Miss., in December.
Katie joined DPS in 2014 in the leadership development and training group as a manager and was promoted to director last year. Her team develops training curriculum, programs and workshops to support the continued development of our leaders.
Q: How long have you been a leader?
I became a leader the day I graduated from college because, within days, I was sent to my ship, had a division of 14 sailors and went out to sea. As a 22-year-old, knowing I had 14 people looking to me to make the right decisions and 14 families praying I would bring their family members home safely added a weight to my shoulders I’d never felt before. Since then, every role I’ve had has been a leadership position, and I can’t imagine it any other way.
Q: What is your leadership philosophy, and what does it mean to you to be a leader?
It comes down to leading with integrity, character and caring for your people. A leader with integrity and character can build trust within their teams, and successful teams are a direct reflection of the care they receive from their leaders.
Q: Why is leadership development so important?
Leadership development is important because engagement of employees is such a crucial part of our company. Data shows that when people leave their companies, 70 percent of the time it’s because of their manager. If we can continue to build our leaders to have the foundational components that create engaged and valued employees, the benefits will be astounding.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle to leadership development?
We stand in our own way all the time. In life (no matter the business), we get busy so quickly. It becomes easy to push leadership development to the side in order to focus on everything else right in front of us. Leaders have to make it intentional.
Q: How does leadership development help increase productivity and employee engagement?
A strong leader with character will grow and develop their team, which leads to engagement. Engaged employees typically enjoy coming to work and derive an element of fulfillment in what they do. Those employees often have such pride that they work harder than those who are disengaged.
Q: Why is understanding and learning good leadership important for people who are not leaders but want to grow their careers?
I get this question all the time in my role. Often the philosophy is to wait until someone is in a leadership position before we will then give them training to be a leader. If we wait until after someone is already in a leadership position before giving them to tools to be successful, we will have missed an exceptional opportunity to make someone great. Additionally, we define leaders as people who have influence. You don’t have to directly manage people to have influence on others.
Q: What can employees do to prepare themselves for a leadership role?
Look to leaders who you respect and admire or are in a role you would like one day to attain. Learn what was unique in their career path. Find a mentor who can guide you on your journey, formal or informal. Gain respect from all those around you by learning the business and showing you are always willing to work hard. Volunteer for every opportunity that will help you grow.
Q: What is your advice to someone seeking more leadership roles?
Raise your hand because there are so many opportunities in this company. Often our biggest roadblock is not having geographic flexibility, and some of our leaders have gotten the most opportunities by being willing to move. Just remember: A strong work ethic will stand you apart from your peers.