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Leading by example

Rudy Wynter likes big challenges. As president and COO, Wholesale Networks and Capital Delivery for National Grid US, he takes pride in motivating his teams to find equally big answers.

Big challenges don’t worry me; what does is if I don’t have a plan. It’s vitally important to understand the challenge, build a plan and go after it.

I am very fortunate to have had very diverse experiences in my career. I spent a decade in engineering and operations. During that time, I got an MBA and started moving around. I had good mentors and sponsors along the way who stressed to me the importance of having a point of view on my career, having a plan and owning it. That was very helpful.

All those experiences allowed me to exercise and build different leadership muscles – from operational leadership around project work to people leadership, strategic leadership, thought leadership and influencing key stakeholders and regulators.

Leadership is about motivating people. It’s knowing how to get them to follow what you’re doing; how to let them know that you have their back. You have to articulate clearly what you expect of them.

I expect a lot from the teams that work for me, but I also expect a lot from myself.

I tell my team ‘no small plans’. We’re at the stage in our organisation where we need to make some bold steps. Sometimes I push back against small or incremental steps when what we need is a leap.

Leadership is about motivating people. It’s knowing how to get them to follow what you’re doing. I expect a lot from the teams that work for me, but I also expect a lot from myself.

Project VOLT, which stands for ‘vision of leadership in transmission’, is one of those situations. I launched it because I saw gaps between ourselves and a leading class transmission company. So, I challenged my team to think out of the box.

We’ve set an ambitious 10-year plan, part of which is to be one of most intelligent transmission networks in the US. It’s not about upgrading this and that substation: we’re thinking about an entire network, what we need from it, and how we’re going to behave in the future. We’re creating a multi-dimensional, multi-year plan that will build value for our shareholders, and better service and reliability for our customers.

It fills me with pride to help motivate teams to achieve more than they thought they could. Project VOLT is one of those occasions.

I like doing things that have real impact, whether at work at National Grid, or for one of the non-profit organisations I support.

I was humbled to be named one of The Responsible 100 for New York in 2015. This was for work I did as a board member of the United Way to improve Grade 3 reading levels in some of New York’s disadvantaged neighbourhoods. It’s nice to be honoured but it made me think about things we’re not doing and other people who still need so much more.

There are so many good causes out there, such cool things going on, that you could always be busy. I’ve learned to focus how I spend my time – to try to make my involvement as impactful as possible – and to switch off completely during downtime.

If I have any advice, it would be to always have a plan – and always be working on a better one.

It’s important to build credibility. I make sure I keep any commitments I make, even if it’s very difficult. That goes for everything in life.