Juan Carlos Intriago Velez has learned many lessons through his varied work experience in the United States and abroad – the most salient to him is leading with respect. Being a leader is more than having a sound strategy, it extends to the spheres of execution and teamwork. While working in stressful situations in some of the most remote regions of the globe, Juan Carlos understood the importance of respecting and relying on the power of a team.
Juan Carlos’s expertise as a mechanical engineer has led him to challenging assignments including work on the largest robotic water fountain in the world at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and arming and detonating explosives on oil rigs in Doha, Qatar. Fundamental to these assignments were long hours, demanding clients, and the ever-present threat of mechanical danger. Herein lied the path Juan Carlos saw to success – respect for the abilities of his team members, regardless of their title or company stature.
Growing up, Juan Carlos developed a deep respect and appreciation for his father who worked as an electrician. From an early age, Juan Carlos could see that talent and the potential for impact was not defined by a person’s job title. Inherent in his respect for the oil rig teams that he led was a responsibility to protect their safety. This is not to be taken lightly. The business of oil is competitive, expensive, and clients often ask to complete operations that put individual workers at risk. Juan Carlos encountered one particular situation with a demanding client who threatened to damage his personal reputation and that of Schlumberger, the company where he worked. Despite this, Juan Carlos remained steadfast in his commitment to respect the livelihood of his crew and refused to complete the client’s request. This shows how the principle of respect for others transcends the traditional models of skills and abilities – truly it is one of understanding and compassion.
Juan Carlos imparted his personal leadership learnings in three digestible segments, which we will all be better off for adopting:
Effective leadership requires mutual respect
1) For People – Leaders lead people, not tools
2) Regardless of Position – People are more than their titles
3) For Ability – Trust in your people and their abilities
In the business world – where competition, power, and performance are paramount – Juan Carlos reminds us that achieving success requires a human component. As leaders, we will undoubtedly face challenges and uncertain paths, but we will rarely navigate them alone. Teamwork requires mutual respect and understanding among all members of the team, especially its leader. Choosing to lead with respect is one of the many steps towards success.
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