Great leaders are always looking out for the people they lead. It is easy to spot the poor leader in an organization or business because everything is about the leader. You see it in the “gold parachutes” that executives have when the company is sold, or when a merger takes place. The key executives are taken care of beyond anything that is reasonable, and the rest of the company employees are left to see their benefits cut and layoffs.
It is no wonder there is such a frustration sometimes toward businesses. It appears the most basic contract of trust and protection is broken. The top people get all the benefits, while the rank and file suffer. The great leaders look out for everyone in the business or organization. They are willing to give things up for the good of the whole group. The great leaders spend their time building and supporting the people around them.
In 2008, the company Barry-Wehmiller ($1.5 billion in sales and 7,000 employees), a company that makes machines that produce boxes for products, got hit hard in lost sales and orders just like every other major corporation in America did during the recession. Bob Chapman, the president and CEO of the company, was faced with what many companies were facing and that was laying off a majority of the employees. Chapman made a bold decision not to lay people off. Instead, he made the decision they could get through this tough time, if they all came together and suffered a little and sacrificed together.
Chapman decided that everybody, from the CEO down to the receptionist, would take four weeks of unpaid time off. The employees could take time off at their choosing, and they did not have to take time off in consecutive weeks. The announcement changed the dynamics of the situation for the company. Employees were no longer in preservation mode, but were in a cooperation mode. No on lost their job and people who could afford to take more time off took more time off to help someone who could least afford taking time off. The policy changed the dynamics of culture and the outcome for the company.
Bob Chapman decided that they would all suffer a little together, as opposed to some employees facing the considerable devastation of a job loss. After the “great recession” ended, Barry-Wehmiller emerged “ahead of the curve” and sales have increased 15% annually, including during the downturn. The company continues to grow and acquire new businesses and operations.
Great leaders look at people as assets to be protected and developed, not just a bottom-line number to be cut or manipulated. When employees sense that the leadership of the organization has the employees’ best interest at heart, the productivity and outcomes increase exponentially.
Don’t miss the next McAllen Chamber of Commerce Breakfast and Learn: “How the New Tax Reform Affects Your Business.” Burton McCumber & Longoria will be leading the seminar. The seminar is Friday, January 19 from 8:00 AM to 10:30AM at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Cost is $15. RSVP to Gerry Garcia at 682-2871.