How Jeff Barger Used Leadership Essentials to Turn Around a Business & Get Union Buy-In

The Aerospace Executive Podcast

22-03-2018 • 55 mins

A winning company is rooted in strong culture and good leadership. When this is lacking, what are the questions you should ask to start turning things around? How do you evaluate whether the management has the appetite to do what needs to be done? How can you go about assembling the right team? On this episode, President and CEO of Zodiac Aerospace, Jeff Barger, shares his strategies for transforming a company from struggle to profitability.

The right team has to be assembled. -Jeff Barger

Takeaways + Tactics

  • You want collaborative, cross-functional types of leaders.
  • Lead by example and do what you say you’re going to do.
  • Bonuses for operators: money is nice to have, but it’s the recognition they really want.


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At the start of the show, Jeff gave some background on his career. He shared his experiences turning businesses around, and how he has successfully done this over the last 15 years. Next, we talked about how to evaluate the culture and leadership to see what needs to be done, as well as the best ways to incentivize hard work.

We also discussed:

  • The kinds of leaders you need to have
  • How do get the buy-in of the workers
  • Dealing with unions
  • Mistakes other companies have made

It’s natural for people to be a little cold to a new leader, but when they see that action is taking place, they will start warming up. Once the trust builds, they will start to do the things necessary for their own personal success. That's where you really see the ownership start to get traction at the operator level.