This interview with Ron Kaplan,chief executive of Trex, a manufacturer of outdoor decks, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.
Q. Early leadership lessons for you?
A. My father and grandfather were both combat veterans, and they spent a lot of time cultivating my understanding of why leaders are chosen and why people respect other people. My father taught me that the No. 1 job of a leader is to make the staff feel secure.
One way you do that is to carry yourself a certain way — you’re serious, you get things done, people can rely on you, and your reputation for integrity has to be beyond reproach. These things do soak into your bone marrow. And in my experience, which is pretty consistent with what my parents told me, the world is not necessarily run by geniuses; it’s run by people you can count on.
I also noticed that people would come to me for advice in high school and college. I had no credentials. But I dispensed my thoughts by asking them questions. Nine times out of 10, they’d come up with their own answer, but they appreciated the opportunity to talk. To this day, I find I’m most effective as a leader by facilitating other people talking.
I read that you took up marksmanship early on. How did that come about?