Just about every business leader talks about innovation and the importance of trying new things and taking risks.
But Ecolab CEO Douglas Baker tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib that it takes more than just words. “You’ve got to demonstrate your willingness to take risks…. even if it means it may cost you your job,” he says. “That’s your responsibility as a leader.”
Baker has the results to show for his bold actions. Since he was tapped to run the near-century-old Minnesota company, Baker has transformed it from an industrial cleaning firm into a global leader of industrial water treatment and conservation. In his 12 years at the helm, he has tripled revenues to nearly $14 billion dollars, boosting Ecolab’s rank on the Fortune 500 from 451 in 2004 to 206 this year. And on Wall Street, investors have benefitted as the company’s shares have more than quadrupled during Baker’s tenure.
What has been the key to his success? Baker says it boils down to team-building—the “ability to attract people, keep them, grow together.” And that goes for himself, too. “You need to be a better leader next year than you were the year before,” he says. “I think you’ve got to keep aspiring to be better, learn, change, [and] modify your approach given the circumstances.”