What Hawk loves most about his job is creating jobs and developing people into managers, but even he needs a reminder every now and then. He carries with him a paper that lists a variety of habits that critical thinkers need to be successful. He said he constantly refers to it in order to remain on track. The first one is “be more concerned with getting it right than being right.”
“I have to remind myself all the time that if you're not careful, you want to make all the decisions and do all the talking,” Hawk said. “At my point in my career, it's not about me. It's about making this a better organization and a better life and career for the people here.”
Other habits on his sheet include avoid jumping to conclusions, not accepting information at face value and—perhaps most importantly—show flexibility and willingness to consider alternate ideas and opinions.
“You've got to stay calm under pressure or when things are going in the wrong direction and get it back in the right direction,” said Don Waterhouse, director of human resources and general affairs at Toyo Tires North America Manufacturing. “He's that kind of guy.”
Hawk tries to put himself in his employees' shoes. If someone was micromanaging him every day, he would get the impression that he is not capable of doing the job he is assigned. Instead, he sets the course, establishes the goals and trusts his employees' way of getting there.
Hawk will challenge his employees, especially new ones, to see what kind of character they reveal. He will give them control of their own program, making them responsible and holding them accountable for its success. It also means there will be mistakes that come with inexperience, but Hawk won't ever set his employees up for failure.
He's not afraid to let them make mistakes and learn from the experience.
“It's very difficult for someone like me to let people make mistakes,” Hawk said. “Unfortunately that's part of the learning process. You've got to overwhelm these younger folks with responsibility, but not sink or swim. Somebody needs to be observing what's going on and don't let them fail. In some cases, you have to push their back to the wall to see what kind of character they have and whether or not they're going to take ownership.”
He also is obsessed with promoting from within. Hawk said nearly all of Toyo's supervisors came out of production. He is not opposed to hiring from the outside, but he would much rather grow his work force organically.
“You have to know when it is the appropriate time to hire someone from the outside to give yourself a different look and perspective on how other businesses work,” Hawk said.
Huggins is a perfect example. At Continental, he began as a controller, but then he switched to purchasing, holding that position for several years. He joined Toyo as a purchasing engineer, but a year later the CFO position opened up on the finance side. Hawk asked him to fill it because of his prior experience as a controller.
Since he left that area, Huggins said another organization likely would not have given him the opportunity to return, perhaps filling the position from outside.
Hawk's philosophy when it comes to hiring gives his employees more of an incentive to be a contributor, Huggins said. They feel they can contribute and work their way up the company.
“I tell everybody, "If you want my job, come and get it. I'll help you,' “ Hawk said, “as long as you care about these people, and as long as you're as good as I am. One of the most satisfying things I do nowadays is being able to be part of creating jobs and being able to help promote people's careers and future.”