The Faces of KION North America: Our Leaders on Leadership – Matti Johnston, Solutions Service Senior Manager

Welcome to the newest installment of The Faces of KION North America (Our Leaders on Leadership), where we have the privilege of sitting down with Matti Johnston, Solutions Service Senior Manager.

In this exclusive interview, we’ll delve into Matti’s rich experiences and philosophy, gaining insights into her deep appreciation for the industry’s nuances and unwavering commitment to timeless leadership principles. Get ready for a captivating exploration of leadership in action with Matti Johnston.

What is your position, and in summary, what do you do? 

As the Automated Solutions Service Manager for KION NA, my purpose and mission is to manage the development process of the go-to-market service strategy for our Automated Solutions and partner with our dealership network to empower them to deliver world-class service to our automation customers.

What made you get into this industry? 

Not only is materials handling and movement a crucial part of the global economy, but by being involved in this industry, you get to experience how some of our everyday items make it to our doorstep and stores. I’ve seen mail sorted and moved, tires and cars made, and packages picked, packed, and shipped. It creates a tremendous appreciation for those people, places, and things that make it all possible.

What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today? 

One attribute of leaders that I don’t feel will ever go out of style is the willingness to practice servant leadership. The ability to distill issues and remove barriers for team members is of indisputable value. By going through this process of being a problem solver for your team members, you also then become a more informed decision maker when that time comes as well.

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In a time when postponed decisions could jeopardize substantial progress, being able to distinguish between low and high-risk decisions, ones that are easily reversible or not, is of upmost importance as well. If it is easily reversible, make the decision, monitor the impacts and outcomes and pivot if necessary. For the higher risk decisions, gather together your consultants and work through methodically and with great deliberation. The more varied the perspectives the better.

What advice would you give someone seeking a leadership position in your line of work? 

Walk alongside before you intend to lead. Having no experience in Service when I started in the industry, other than changing the brakes and rotors on my car, I had to experience the job I would eventually ask others to do. I’ve always advocated to consider the entry-level position before mid-management, especially if entering a new industry. The amount of knowledge, perspective, and experience you gain will pay tremendous dividends.