The Human-Side of Leadership
I prepared for a career in business by taking management classes, obtaining a management degree and getting a job in management. My education was about me learning the basics of business so that I could be successful. In the early part of my career, I thought that my education and experience allowed me to tell people what to do and to see people as ‘functions’ and not as people. My work in the public accounting and business sectors afterward affirmed that it was all about creating shareholder value and ‘my’ success.
In the early part of my career, I thought that my education and experience allowed me to tell people what to do and to see people as ‘functions’ and not as people
And successful I was! I did well as a manager and boss. Under my leadership as CEO, we built a track record of shareholder value creation. We transformed a 100-year-old struggling capital goods company with revenues in 1987 of $20 million into a $1.6 billion revenue company today. For 25 years Barry-Wehmiller has generated a 16% compound return to our shareholders. The combination of 60+ acquisitions and organic growth created a vibrant company—a success in terms of how our society views success.
Then in the late 1990s while attending a wedding, I observed everyone celebrating the special young man and woman. At that moment I realized that everyone is someone’s precious child. So, as a leader of those precious lives, wasn’t it my duty—my profound responsibility—to provide the care and nurturing employees needed to be all they were meant to be? Leadership calls us to be stewards of the special lives entrusted to us every day.
Wasn’t it my duty to provide the care and nurturing employees needed to be all they were meant to be?
Not long afterward, I was awed by a rector’s sermon during a church service. I thought about the rector’s opportunity to inspire the lives of those attending the service for an hour each week and realized that we, as business leaders, have the opportunity to inspire our team members for 40 hours each week. What an opportunity we have been granted to inspire and influence and positively impact employees’ lives!
The combination of these revelations made me see that business organizations have the opportunity to be the most powerful force for good in the world if more leaders would recognize their role as stewards of those they lead. The impact leadership can have on our team members—and their families– is tremendous. Surveys show that 88% of all people working today feel that they work for a company that does not care about them. By creating caring, empowering, fulfilling work environments, we let our team members know that who they are and what they do matters. When they feel a genuine sense of fulfillment through their time with us, they return home better spouses, parents and children.
Surveys show that 88% of all people working today feel that they work for a company that does not care about them
Our traditional education system does not prepare future leaders to recognize their responsibility for the wellbeing of all of their stakeholders, not just their shareholders. To foster and sustain a people-centric culture throughout Barry-Wehmiller, we created our own corporate university through which we teach the principles of Truly Human Leadership to our team members.
Traditional education system does not prepare future leaders to recognize their responsibility for the wellbeing of all of their stakeholders
It is my sincere belief that if more leaders would adopt Truly Human Leadership practices, we could profoundly shape the future of our country and address many of the problems faced in our companies, homes and communities today.