Since 1975, David B. Savage brings expertise, experience, and leadership including oil and gas, renewable energy, health care, entrepreneurship, stakeholder engagement, business development, coaching, and conflict management.
Over a ten-year period, David and his partners collaborated to develop 5 companies and 4 not-for-profits. Since 2007, Savage Management has focused on building capacity, innovation, and accountability in people and in and between organizations and communities. David Savage works with leaders and organizations to advance their success through collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, and business development. David does this for clients with consulting, coaching, conflict resolution, and collaboration.
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Table of Contents
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
David B. Savage: The discord, disconnection, and disrespect between organizations, communities, and people inspired me decades ago to be a positive influence in our world and organizations. These “dis”s are getting worse and harder to heal. The costs continue to escalate. Conflict, misunderstanding, misalignment of organizations and their leadership, lost productivity, wasted time and wasted resources resulting from limiting perspectives, distraction, and hard-line positions are damaging our today and our future.
I serve organizations in creating better ways to work together internally and externally. Early in my oil and natural gas exploration and development career, I witness the hardlines and failures. Whether it was with two industry leaders or a company and a landowner, simply sitting together and actively listening is a highly effective way to turn from conflict to collaboration.
Mid-career, faced with strong resistance to my company’s expansion plans, I engaged, listened deeply, was patient for three months… then together we identified a path forward that none of us had considered previously, that fast-tracked our project and tripled my share price.
Respect and common sense, too often, are increasingly rare. Those leaders that know the “how-to” are more successful.
Was there somebody in your life that inspired you to take that specific journey with your business?
David B. Savage: Two key people.
Harley Hotchkiss, a quote from his 2011 Obituary “Harley’s contributions to his community were enormous and are well documented. He loved his Calgary Flames and worked tirelessly to support our health care system. Notable among his achievements was his appointment as a Companion of The Order of Canada for his exemplary citizenship and his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame for his leadership over his twelve-year term as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the NHL through very challenging times. Despite his numerous accomplishments, Harley will best be remembered for the warmth and integrity in his dealings with all who knew him.” Harley was a hugely successful international business leader. He, also, was a Board member of one of our companies (BXL Energy). At one such director’s meeting, we were sharing our plans for a new exploration opportunity. Near the end of this discussion, Harley turned to me and said “David, in 1956, I drilled on this land. Ms. “X” (for confidentiality here) is still a friend of mine. I’ll introduce you”. Harley was a people-centered technical professional!
Carol Todd (Savage), my oldest sister told me decades ago “The people that stand up against you can be your greatest source of intelligence and innovation. Embrace conflict.”
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. What’s the worst advice you received?
David B. Savage: Accept that leadership is lonely. You are expected to lead, solve and create. Don’t let them think you are not the expert.’
Leaders of organizations that allow their teams to collaborate, allow themselves to be seen as “not superhuman” and seek out different perspectives, build more loyal, inclusive, innovative, and successful terms.
Think about the leaders that mentored and encouraged you.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
David B. Savage: My coaching, workshops, and consulting have most often been “online”. This has served my clients and me well since 1993.
However, when we get to critical points in a negotiation, a conflict, or an innovation process, there is nothing as effective as being together in person.
As needed, I arrange time together and respect the importance of personal health and safety.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
David B. Savage: I am your hidden asset. You are the leader and the team.
Too many consultants and leaders present themselves as “the solution” then walk away. I build your capacity, skills, leadership, and vision. And I never walk away. For my clients, I am available now and three years from now to respond, rest and empower you and your people.
I am a “plug and play” resource focussed on raising the organization (not my band). If a situation demands my front-line presence for you, I will step in. I prefer to help you be that leader by supporting you. In other words, I will be your firefighter. I prefer to be your home builder.
Delegating is part of being a great leader, but what have you found helpful to get your managers to become valiant leaders as well?
David B. Savage: I offer my 10 Essential Steps to Collaboration. This is a researched and proven step-by-step approach to your success. See this process through my books;
Calling a meeting doesn’t happen until Step 6 (Come Together). Too often, collaboration is infected by “manipulation” and/ or “failure to lead”. Step 9 is Now Lead. This and Step 10 Make It So are the steps where you lead, assess, and hold people accountable (positively and negatively).
“When it comes to the often daunting challenge of collaboration, most leaders wish there was a handy guide available to help walk them through uncharted territory. Thankfully, David Savage has now produced just such a resource. His new book, Better by Design: Your Best Collaboration Guide., should be part of every leaders’ toolkit. David Savage has produced a practical guide that promises to simplify the process of collaboration and enhance the outcomes of trusting relationships.” — David Mitchell, past CEO of the Canadian Public Policy Forum.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
David B. Savage: A CEO’s personal and professional values drive your organization’s business, attractiveness, trust and sales. If your staff, clients, customers, communities don’t align with the way you do business, you are in increasing trouble. Scott Meakin and I focus on helping you be a Business With Purpose. This means being deliberate in how you operate your business with a
clear focus on profit, people, and the environment. For not-for-profit’s, it means a clear focus on fundraising, stakeholders, and the environment in the delivery of your services. Really the same things enable focus on the organizations’ mandate.
What is important to understand is there are numerous ever-changing forces in the market today. To be successful, regardless of your definition of success, organizations need to account for these forces when making business decisions. Employees, customers, and external stakeholders are demanding businesses focus their services or products on them as well as the bottom line. There continues to be a drive for accountability in how organizations deliver their services or products. In fact, this drive is growing.
How do you monitor if the people in your department are performing at their best?
David B. Savage: Talk with your people often.
Are there clarity, appropriate resources, executive commitment, purpose, communications, assessments, and true accountability? How do we pivot when necessary? How do we test? The greatest asset is your ability to “listen deeply” (Step 7 of my 10 Essential Steps).
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
David B. Savage: Entrepreneurship advances as we build our confidence, skills, and dreams. Multinational organizations require entrepreneurs within as much as without. Do you and people you depend on have courage, curiosity, and community? Let’s build entrepreneurial talent to navigate our way through these increasingly challenging times.
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
David B. Savage: “Every conflict we face in life is rich with positive and negative potential. It can be a source of inspiration, enlightenment, learning, transformation, and growth-or rage, fear, shame, entrapment, and resistance. The choice is not up to our opponents, but to us, and our willingness to face and work through them.” Ken Cloke, my friend, mentor, and inspiration.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank David B. Savage for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with David B. Savage or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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