19th Sep 2013

The First 100 Days at US Steel

US Steel recently implemented a leadership shake-up in the wake of years of continued losses - since 2008 the company’s stock price has dropped by about 90%. As of September 1st the 112 year old steelmaker has a new CEO – Mario Longhi, and a new CFO – David Burritt. The company is no doubt hopeful that fresh talent can revitalise its struggling fortunes. With high operating costs, a sluggish demand for steel and competition from imports, steelmakers have been fighting to remain profitable in recent times; there are challenges ahead for these new leaders. 

Longhi is an internal appointee who moved to US Steel relatively recently. He joined as executive vice president and COO in 2012, and he was appointed president and COO in June this year. Longhi has held a chief executive role before – he was CEO of Gerdau Amersteel from 2006 to 2011, and prior to this he worked at aluminium producer Alcoa for 23 years.

Meanwhile Burritt worked at Caterpillar Inc – manfacturers of construction and mining equipment - for 32 years. He was most recently CFO and Vice President of global finance and strategic services from 2004 to 2010.

Both men came to US Steel with formidable experience, and their leadership effectiveness will be tested in the coming months as they try to return US Steel to profitability.

The first 100 days of a leadership appointment are crucial – and are routinely taken as an indication of future leadership potential. So it is imperative that Longhi and Burritt make an early impact in their roles.

In Lead Your Team In Your First 100 Days Niamh O’Keeffe explains how one's ability to build and lead a healthy, high performing team is a critical leadership skill. Your team provides an opportunity for you to multiply your leadership efforts, through them.

Longhi and Burritt are now a few weeks in to their new roles, and there are key ways that they should be leading their teams, to ensure a successful first 100 days and beyond. Both these leaders need to be: a role model, a mission setter, a recruiter, a communicator, a motivator, a skills builder and a target maker.

Longhi and Burritt can expect to face many challenges in the first 100 days, so putting a robust team in place should be a top priority for both of them. Effective team leadership is vital for success as a leader – a strong team will facilitate success – so the sooner Longhi and Burritt get their teams in place the better.

Hilda Goold



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