Bob Chapman is the CEO of Barry Wehmiller, a $2 Billion company with more than $8,500 employees that has achieved a 16.9% compound growth in share price since 1998. But that is not why he was invited to speak at Conscious Capitalism. He may also have gone further that any other CEO in embodying the conscious leadership Simon described.
He opened his presentation with an interesting finding from Gallup; the number one determinant of happiness is a good job – meaningful work among people we care about. Then he added some disquieting facts about work in America. Three out of four people are disengaged, seven out of eight believe their company doesn’t care about them, and three out of five are physically depleted, emotionally drained, mentally distracted and lacking in meaning and purpose. In other words, our workplaces are killing us. Stressed, unhappy people are heading home at the end of each day.
Under Bob’s leadership Barry Wehmiller proves that business leaders can address this crisis. He’s caught the attention and earned the admiration of Harvard’s Amy Cuddy, Simon Sineck and Conscious Capitalism’s Raj Sisodia who is co-authoring a book with Bob called Everybody Matters. Bob has developed ten principles for people-centric culture.
1. Begin every day with a focus on the lives you
2. Leadership is the stewardship of the lives entrusted to you.
3. Embrace leadership practices that send people home safe, healthy and fulfilled.
4. Align all actions to an inspiring vision of a better future.
5. Trust is the foundation of all relationships…act accordingly.
6. Look for the goodness in people and recognize and celebrate daily.
7. Ask no more or less of anyone than you would of your own child.
8. Lead with a clear sense of grounded optimism.
9. Recognize and flex to the uniqueness of everyone
10. Always measure success by the way you touch the lives of people.
He talked about the importance of listening. They teach listening so well at their corporate university that people from outside of the company frequently try to get in. 90% of the feedback they receive about the program is about how much it has affected the family life of the attendees.
In one story, Bob recounted the experience of one middle-aged man who worked as a machinist in one of his facilities in the Midwest. The man would get off of work and go home, usually in a foul mood. He would open the door and toss his hat inside. If it stayed in, he was allowed to enter. If it came back out, it meant that his wife was not willing to deal with him, and he would proceed down the road to the bar for the evening. The hat usually came back out.
Bob met this man after Barry Wehmiller had acquired the company and established its signature culture there. Bob asked how things were going and the man said “My wife is talking to me”. When Bob said he didn’t understand, the man told Bob about his hat, and then explained that he no longer needed to throw it in the door when he come home. He was happy. He learned how to listen, and his marriage transformed.
In another story, one of the employees at the different facility was found to be padding his expense reports, essentially stealing from the company. Even at very people-centric companies, that would mean immediate termination – but not at Barry Wehmiller. The employee was summoned into a meeting and was told that he’d been found out. But rather than showing hi the door, they asked him what was going on. He confessed that he was in the middle of an ugly divorce, that his accounts had been frozen and that his only means of feeding himself was the company card. From this understanding, his managers established a plan that would allow the employee to meet his basic needs and eventually pay back the money he had stolen.