Through these leadership skills and a myriad of others, Sami and the team not only managed to keep Schwank afloat, but steered it to record-breaking sales in Q4 and the most profitable year in history. As temperatures dropped and pandemic-safe activities started to take place outside, businesses everywhere were taking steps to make their outdoor spaces more comfortable. Enter Schwank, purveyors of outdoor heating.
“I attribute so much of it to TEC. My TEC Group taught me how to harness decisiveness and remain connected to the wellbeing of the team, helping to pull Schwank out of those rough waters in a big way. I re-joined TEC in August of 2020, just in time for Schwank’s transition from a machine that didn’t know how to move to a machine moving faster than it ever had before.”
Enthusiastic about all the ways TEC has helped his leadership journey, most prominently, Sami admits, is his overall leadership style.
“I used to think that pride, confidence and having all the answers were critical as a leader. TEC showed me that was a bunch of rubbish. It’s possible to make necessary decisions without knowing the answer.”
Now, Sami often walks into Schwank meetings without a decision or opinion, delving into and understanding his team’s angles and opinions first. They even use TEC style “clarifying questions” to go through the issue together and come up with the answer.
“It really has been freeing not to be the person who must have all the answers. That has been such a transformational leadership piece from TEC.”
Sami encourages TEC Canada members to let go of their pride and not be afraid to ask questions.
“With hundreds of years of collective experience in one room, you ALWAYS learn something at TEC. The value of TEC is the collective experience and wealth of knowledge that can translate into anyone’s personal and professional life—even a groomed president.”
For example, upon implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system at a former company, Sami brought the situation to TEC in search of advice to carry out the process efficiently and effectively. Rather than being an executive “above” an ERP implementation, Sami’s group advised him to create a “war room” and be in there to feel and work through the pain points with the team.
“These pieces of advice were instrumental in having a successful ERP system launch. I could list off ten first-time projects we undertook that felt like we had experience because TEC members had given us advice on how they handled it.”