Doug Sterbenz is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Westar Energy. He leads the operating activities for the largest electric provider in Kansas. He started as a Kansas kid whose understanding of leadership was challenged by early mentors and put to the test in his first job supervising a hard-scrabble crew of hourly workers. His career has been marked by taking on tough jobs and learning along the way.
Present to Win Leadership
He has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Kansas State University, holds a Professional Engineering license, and has a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Texas at Tyler. He believes in individual continuous learning, achieving Zero accidents and growing leaders.
Doug started his career as an engineer in a large power plant in Texas. He moved into supervision and held many leadership positions in various power plants. He then moved into power marketing and trading in the Western United States. He joined Westar Energy, served in several positions before becoming the executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2007.
He is a graduate of Leadership Topeka, and Leadership Kansas, serves on the board of directors for the Kansas Capital Area American Red Cross, a board member for the United Way of Greater Topeka, is an EEI Energy Supply Executive Advisory Board member, member of the Dean’s Engineering Advisory Council at Kansas State University and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Kansas.
Doug and his wife Connie have three children and live in Topeka, Kansas.
Parents not Babysitters
Most parents have hired a babysitter — and there is never any confusion about the very different roles and responsibilities of parents and babysitters. Yet, is your leadership team acting as babysitters (just doing the work without regard to long-term results) or acting as parents (investing in the future, showing ownership over the outcomes, being fiercely loyal and supporting of the business goals)? Presenting the difference in a way everyone can understand, Doug challenges leadership teams to step up to the role of parents in driving real growth.
Are your leaders simply babysitters to those they lead?
All leaders think they act with a high level of integrity – right? When it comes to leading, supervising and managing, integrity takes on a meaning that many people don’t think about. In fact, many leaders violate a simple law of integrity often and don’t know it. Doug has developed his model called, “A Manager’s Integrity.”
Doug shows through story, actual example and role play what has derailed the careers of many aspiring leaders and company change efforts. Those leaders who learn the principle of this model have gone on to implement great initiatives, lead change positively and achieve great success.
The Ink Spot
Doug tells the story of an ink pen leaving a nasty ink spot on his new white shirt in an important business meeting, and how he used the name tag to cover up his embarrassment. Everyone can relate to the funny and entertaining story. Doug then uses the story to examine how leaders have concerns that hold them back. We all like to hide our flaws so our followers won’t see them, but our followers almost always know. Who are we fooling? All leaders have embarrassments. We are not perfect.
Doug helps aspiring leaders find and solve their own ink spots, their limitations.
The Secret Ingredient to Safety Excellence
Most company safety programs are average. Some of them even fail. And a few really excel. The ones that excel always have a secret element. All safety programs are made or lost over this one secret ingredient – and it is one element most overlooked by leadership. Doug reveals the secret to an excellent safety program and shows how your employees will never forget it.
The knock on the door: a segment that rivets the audience on the real toll of safety failures
Making the numbers real (an interactive exercise with the audience that brings home the belief that no injury is acceptable
More than just words: a compelling and moving story about how power plant employees took some simple words from the COO and made them a pledge