Success Secrets of a Century-Old Growing Company

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In Everybody Matters, Chapman and Sisodia share the story of how Barry-Wehmiller, a 130+ year old company, has successfully stood the test of time and continues to grow.

A foundation of their leadership approach is trust; “if you trust people, they will trust you back. If you engage them in creating a shared vision for the future of the enterprise and given them the freedom to act in support of that vision, they will do so responsibly, creatively and enthusiastically. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things if you create the right culture and a sustainable business model.”

They’ve codified their core beliefs in the “10 Commandments of Truly Human Leadership”

  1. Begin every day with a focus on the lives you touch.
  2. Know that leadership is the stewardship of the lives entrusted to you.
  3. Embrace leadership practices that send people home each day safe, healthy and fulfilled.
  4. Align all actions to an inspirational 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 it 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!

Over the last 15-20 years, as the company began substantial expansion, it sought to clearly identify what is great leadership, and techniques they can use to inspire people. This led to the “Guiding Principles of Leadership” (GLP), with its focus on the 10th commandment.

“Leadership creates a dynamic environment that:

  • Is based on trust
  • Brings out and celebrates the best in each individual
  • Allows for teams and individuals to have a meaningful role
  • Inspires a sense of pride
  • Challenges individuals and teams
  • Liberates everyone to realize “true success” 

….We are committed to our employees’ person growth.”

As you think about the culture and leadership codes, consider how they apply to your company.

  • How well do your communications and other systems empower individuals and teams? 
  • Do your measures allow your people to relate their contribution to the realization of the vision?
  • Are leaders called upon to be visionaries, coaches, mentors, teachers and students? 
  • As your sphere of influence grows, is your responsibility for stewardship also growing?