“You never know where the next good idea is going to come from.” - Hunt Pettit
When I started my company in 2008, for several months, there was only one employee, me. Since 2008, I have been very fortunate to surround myself with excellent people, each one an expert in one or more disciplines related to the oil and gas business. From the humble and small beginnings, we now have over 80 full-time employees and dozens of contractors that work for the company.
My approach to leading continues to evolve to this day. The fundamental tenet on which it is based is that great people make great companies. There has to be a framework, an employment agreement, but the mission of both the employer and the employee must be one of mutual respect, appreciation and encouragement. My job is to empower my team to do more and expect more of themselves, their co-workers and the leadership of the company than they would in a “normal” work environment.
Below are my simple guidelines that I have established for how I choose to lead my organization:
Be bold, take risks: Take on projects that critics might say are “out of your league.” Demonstrate to your team your faith in their ability to achieve the desired outcome. Clearly set the expectation that they will come up with the solution. Cultivate a “Someone is going to do it; it might as well be us” attitude. Nothing is ever easy, regardless of the task you choose to tackle, so why not go for it and do something remarkable?
Commit: Nothing great has ever been achieved without first committing wholeheartedly to the endeavor. Demonstrate fearless commitment to the success of the organization. When you commit in a way where failure is not an option, the best in people comes out.
Your employees are your customers: You will only be as successful as your worst employee, and the organization will only be as successful as the employees make it. Build a culture focused on bringing out the best in people both individually and as a group.
Focus on solutions: Any time we face a challenge or problem, we spend the majority of our time deriving solutions, not discussing the problem.
Encourage vulnerability: Share issues and challenges. Encourage collaboration, discussion and debate. You never know where the next good idea is going to come from. Don’t think that you, as a leader, have a monopoly on them. Let people know that trial and error is acceptable. Make it safe to make an honest mistake. We won’t always get the right answer the first time, but if we work together, we can come up with a collective answer whose results far exceed the answer of the individual.
Acknowledge success: Make sure that you recognize and award employees who set the standard by going the extra mile.
Coach, don’t manage: Managing employees caters to the lowest common denominator and by definition generates inferior results. Be your employees’ staunchest ally and coach. Push them to find better solutions to any and every issue that they face.
Invest: Invest in your people both inside and outside the office. I have provided financial sponsorship to people to attend CE programs, leadership training, counseling, and personal development seminars.
Establish peer-level accountability: I want people to be excited about coming to work every day. When they love where they work, they will take ownership of tasks, processes and projects. They will also want to protect the work place. The group will take care of those with poor attitudes and performance.
Management’s responsibility: Management is accountable to the outside world for the work that the team does. Each time I sign my name on the line for an acquisition, it’s a financing obligation I am committing based upon my confidence in the team’s ability to deliver on that promise.
Hunt Pettit has more than 19 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. Since 2004, he has been involved in the acquisition of over 360,000 acres in various plays including the Barnett and Eagle Ford Shales. His company produced an average of 13,500 net boepd during 1Q15 from assets in East Texas.