“I found that parenting and leadership are identical. It is the stewardship of the lives entrusted to you, whether through birth or through employment.” This quote from Bob Chapman during a recent interview for his book, Everybody Matters, expresses one of the key principles of his leadership philosophy – his approach to the Lean principle of Respect for People.
This leadership philosophy is good for business. It is responsible for his company, Barry Wehmiller, growing to 11,000 employees in 100 locations in 28 countries, and generating $2.5 billion in annual revenue, with a compounded revenue growth of 18% since 1987.
Bob explains his approach in detail in Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, a best-selling book he co-authored last year with Raj Sisodia. Through a series of events, Bob came to realize that in his role as CEO he needed to lead differently. The book chronicles how he came to that realization and the steps he and his team took to change themselves and their company.
Respect for People
The Barry Wehmiller story is a powerful example of fully embracing the Lean principle of Respect for People.
Bob started out as a traditional corporate leader, with the twist that he was thrust into the CEO position at age 30 after his father suddenly passed away. He initially ran the company the way he had been trained as an MBA, focusing on the numbers and treating people as expendable functions, laying them off if that was the best move to drive financial performance.
While attending the wedding of a friend’s daughter he came to the realization that parenting and leading a company shared a common thread of responsibility for the lives of others. As a CEO, he was responsible for creating the working conditions for his employees. People spend over a third of their lives in the workplace. It affects how they feel and who they are as people. And they take those feelings home to their families and communities.
Workers who are valued and respected for their minds and hearts, rather than simply used for their hands, bring home the joy and positivity of empowerment, making their families and communities better. Those who are used only for their hands, as human machines, bring home toxic negativity that damages their families and communities.
Bob and his executive team developed Barry Wehmiller’s Guiding Principles of Leadership to codify the underpinnings of the culture that he wanted to create across the entire organization. As he worked to spread the culture he realized that he needed to do more to have this approach truly reach all of his 2000 front line workers. He turned to Lean.
Effective Lean Leadership
His first experience with Lean consultants deeply concerned him. They were presenting Lean with a focus solely on removing waste and improving productivity, with no attention to Respect for People, what Mark Graban refers to as LAME or “Lean as Misguidedly Executed”. So Bob took the basics of Lean and changed the approach to align with his philosophy that Everybody Matters. His team renamed the approach the Living Legacy of Leadership.
Bob and his team have taken the principles of Lean, both Respect for People and Continuous Improvement and made them their own. They have become a major force in the Conscious Capitalism movement to make the world a better place by recognizing the potential that corporations have to have a positive impact on all their stakeholders, not just their shareholders.
If you are a leader, whether you are a father or a mother or someone’s precious child, you have the opportunity to create a workplace culture that:
- Empowers your team members
- Returns joy to the work, and
- Makes the world a better place.
What have you done, or what will you do, to ensure that everybody who reports to you knows that Everybody Matters, ?
Please share your ideas with others in the Comments below.