Part of the Equity Bank Entrepreneurial & Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership
The Entrepreneurial & Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership brought to you by Equity Bank and Richard Rierson is all about sharing inspiring and educational interviews with today’s most relevant and motivational leaders. Rierson talks to leaders and influence experts who dedicate their lives to truth, common sense and courageous leadership.

Photo of Vic Lukic. He is in a black jacket and blue shirt. He has no hair and is smiling.“The day I can walk out of this company and absolutely nothing changes for years, that’s when I know that I’ve done my best,” said Victor Lukic, president of Great Plains Industries (GPI).
 
For Lukic, being an effective leader isn’t about having control, it’s about creating an environment that allows the organization to function independently.
 
In Richard Rierson’s podcast interview with Lukic, they discuss the leadership mindset that creates an independent organization and how Lukic has worked to encourage this environment since becoming president of GPI in 2012.
 
Though GPI is globally recognized for its high-quality, fuel transfer pumps, fuel and flow meters, and industrial instrumentation—all of its products are manufactured on the production floor of the company’s headquarters in Wichita, Kansas.
 
This is where all the magic happens.
 
For Lukic, who’s an engineer by trade, nothing makes him tick more than going down on the production floor and learning about how to make products and processes better from his employees.
 
“Most engineers like being in dark rooms and caves,” laughs Lukic. “But, I want to make a difference.”
 
He recognizes that the difference doesn’t come from the top down. It can come from any employee—but there has to be trust for it to work.
 
“They have to be comfortable that I don’t have the answers,” he said. “It has to be sincere.”
 
This interactive approach is based on the company’s practice of Six Sigma, which is based on lean management and growing from the inside out. Lukic wants his employees, especially those on the production floor, to continuously evolve the company. His role, he says, is that of a guide.
 
Lukic learned Six Sigma from a former boss whom he held in high regard.

Lukic had shown a heating systems concept to his boss, who said, “If you want this to be right, you need to take this concept down to the production floor and talk to the guys who are welding and cutting this and see what they think.”
 
So Lukic did that. And he credits the experience as one that shaped him into the leader he is today.
 

“I always need to be seeking feedback,” said Lukic. “So I say things like, “I don’t know what I’m talking about, but this is what I’m thinking. It gives the group the right to go, ‘Okay that’s not right or here’s what I think.’”

 
He does this so the organization can drive and transform itself. “It can’t come from one individual,” he says.
 
The most challenging part of working with individuals, however, is understanding and managing their personalities. Lukic says that oftentimes the people who are naturally more deliberate and assertive get to advocate their point, while the rest of the group feels unheard. The people advocating think the meeting went really well, but then the people who are silent have a different point of view.
 
“If you don’t understand the strength of personalities, what happens is that those who are the most assertive set the stage,” said Lukic. “It may seem like you have autonomy, but you don’t.”
 
Personality conflicts like this inhibit growth and improvement. So Lukic moves forward by understanding people’s individual wiring and how they should interact.
So how does this work exactly?
 
Well, Lukic uses a predictive index, similar to the Disc model, to create profiles of everyone on his leadership team. He shares those profiles amongst the group and makes a point to manage the different personalities at play. He tames “the talkers” and encourages “the thinkers.”
 
“Even our CFO, who’s a rockstar, doesn’t say much,” said Lukic. We have to call him out and give him the ability to say something. But in the six years I’ve been here, there’s never been a moment when I asked him to make a comment and I didn’t learn from it.”
 
What makes Lukic a brilliant leader is his ability to recognize how individual personalities can work together under the umbrella of the company’s “collective personality” or vision, as he describes.
 
Photo of a man walking on a tightrope.
 
Vision is so important to Lukic that he and his management team spent two out of the three days of a recent leadership retreat discussing it.
 
“My job is to facilitate the vision creation and continuous recalculation,” said Lukic. “If an organization doesn’t have a
vision that’s clear and understood, that’s a problem.”
 
Lukic describes a discussion he had with a recruiter before he took the job at GPI. The two were talking about the importance of culture, but the way they described the telltale sign of employee acceptance varied.
 
The recruiter said, “You want people to buy-in,” to which Lukic replied, “No, I want people to believe.”
 
The shift in wording may seem small but Lukic recognizes the gravity of an employee base who believes in where they are headed as a company. It’s the kind of stuff that people live for in life.
 
“You want to create a vision that everyone believes in,” said Lukic.
 
That’s what energizes Lukic. He’s thinking about how to move the needle today and tomorrow, but he’s also thinking about what the company is going to look like 10 years from now. And like he said, if he’s done his job right, things will go on just fine without him.
 
In the meantime, Lukic will continue to listen, learn and guide.
 
Click here to listen to Richard Rierson’s full podcast with Vic Lukic.