…Another year over, and a new one just begun. — John Lennon
Once again, we find ourselves taking stock of what has been in 2016 and how to chart a successful course in 2017.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll see the familiar litany of New Year’s resolutions — lose weight, make more money, be a better spouse or parent, and so on.
And once again, all the talk shows, websites, and magazines will runneth over with self-proclaimed experts peddling an endless array of diet secrets, wonder potions, self-help books, and hot new gadgets to help us out.
But if you’re a CEO or business owner, you’re likely making New Year’s resolutions for business, too. You may be pondering how to make 2017 a better year, not just for yourself, but for your workers, your customers, and your family. How can you make life better for all of the people affected by your decisions?
Discovering the Power of Truly Human Leadership
Bob Chapman, longtime CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, describes his philosophy of Truly Human Leadership in Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, co-authored with Raj Sisodia.
The company was facing many challenges when Chapman became CEO in 1976, including a frozen line of credit. In response, he implemented a leadership style that prioritized the well-being of employees — treating them like members of his own family rather than objects to be managed.
As Chapman explains, “We’re in business so that all of our team members can have meaningful and fulfilling lives.”
In his powerful book, Chapman details a number of key principles on how to treat people at work — and how investing in people is good for business.
- Listen to understand.
- Create a safe environment for all team members.
- Nurture trust.
- Start leading instead of managing.
- Care about others.
- Do good and seek to minimize harm.
Chapman encourages leaders to see themselves as mentors or coaches, instead of merely a “boss”. When people have the opportunity to do meaningful work, it fosters personal growth and success — not just better performance on the job, but better marriages, parenting, friendships, neighbors, and even greater volunteerism in the local community.
Sounds Good, But Does It Work?
But how does all this supposedly touchy-feely stuff affect the bottom line?
In the 40 years since Chapman took the helm, Barry-Wehmiller has become one of the world’s leading manufacturing, consulting, and design firms.
Today, it boasts almost $2 billion in annual revenues and ownership of 75 companies in 28 countries, with more than 100 locations and 8,500 employees. The company even weathered the 2009 recession without a single layoff.
And Chapman isn’t alone. A growing body of research, and a growing number of business leaders, are noticing the value of putting people first.
- Researchers from the University of Warwick found that employees who report being happy at work are 12% more productive than unhappy workers.
- Search leader Google invested significant resources in various employee support initiatives. As a result, the company saw a 37% increase in employee satisfaction.
- Starbucks raised eyebrows a few years ago with its decision to offer online college courses to employees. According to CEO Howard Schultz, the decision was a no-brainer — along with other benefits including health insurance and shares of company stock, it helps the coffee giant to attract and retain the best people. And happy employees translate into more positive customer interactions.
- For business coach and entrepreneur Dionne Mahaffey, CEO of staffing firm The CPAI Group, putting people first means letting your employees play to their strengths. Proper alignment between your resources and the natural aptitudes of your people leads to better outcomes for the entire organization.
As a CEO or business owner, every day you encounter issues when it comes to leading people:
- Recruiting and developing the right talent.
- Motivating individuals on a daily basis.
- Resolving conflicts between people or departments.
- Grappling with the difficult decision of whether to part ways with a particular employee.
Developing Chapman’s Truly Human Leadership skills can help you manage these issues more effectively. You’ll create an environment that helps every member of your team reach his or her full potential and enjoy a better quality of life at work and at home.
One excellent way to build leadership skills is to learn from other leaders. In a peer advisory group, such as those affiliated with Vistage International, you’ll get constructive feedback from fellow CEOs or business owners, once a month in a supportive, confidential setting. Each meeting is led by a Vistage Chair, who also provides a monthly one-to-one executive coaching session to give you even further insights to help your growth and development.
If you’re looking for resources to help you achieve a better 2017 for your team, contact Global Advisory Associates.
We look forward to helping you discover effective solutions that will benefit your people and help you navigate the opportunities and challenges that come your way this year.