Everybody Matters by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia :This is an Extraordinery Book on Leadership with the theme of ‘Extraordinary Power of caring for your people like family’
Bob Chapman – Chairman and CEO of Barry Wehmiller – a Global Capital Equipment and Engineering Consulting Company ($ 2.5 Billion Company with 11,000 employees world over)
Photo of Bob Chapman
Raj Sisodia – FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business of Concious Capitalism at Babson College
Photo of Raj Sisodia
Everybody Matters Book Review – Best Leadership Book
Let us check about best Leadership Book by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia – Everybody Matters Book Review.
The prologue starts with the author describing dire condition of the workers, who were laid off due to business downturn / recession in business, without considering the adverse impact that these workers and their families will have to face.
He is of the opinion that despite of the highs and lows in the businesses, everyone in the company should be cared and treated like a family and yet it is possible to achieve unimaginable growth in his businesses.
Till the second year of his college, Bob was a very ordinary student. In his second year, his girlfriend conceived and they had to get married. Imediately thereafter Bob became a ‘A’ grade student, due to his added responsibilities, and passed out with a Degree in Accounting; followed by MBA and CPA program at Michigan University. Then he got a job at Price Waterhouse audit department where he got exposure to different business models.
In 1975, his father invited him to join Barry Wehmiller, which was not in healthy state. With his hard work he brought the company’s position up. He introduced new technologies and innovations in the company. His Company was growing by organic growth as well as by acquisitions. But he and his Company were still treating people as resources for production – to be laid off if required.
Human Side of Business
In 1997, Bob visited Hayssen – newly acquired Company for discussing rebuilding of the Company. He was before work time when employees were still in coffee area. All of them were in fun mood and enjoying . However as the time was getting close to 8.00 am, their mood became serious – draining fun mood from them.
This triggered Bob to think that ‘Why work cannot be a fun?’ He had a discussion with the Customer Service Department regarding this matter and introduced fun games of incentives. He saw the results in 13 months, when this initiative took the sales figure up by 20%. Also customer service fulfillment time was drastically reduced. No special training was imparted. People’s natural skills had surfaced. This was an eye opener and was spread to other departments of this Company and other Companies of the Group.
Subsequently, in 2002 Bob formulated ‘Guiding Priniciples of Leadership’ of Barry Wehmiller with Central Idea of Commitment to Employees Personal Growth.
‘Inspiring people to solve the problems, rather than helping them with problem solving‘ was considered appropriate
Bob picturised the kind of emotions that a father felt for the bridegroom, in a wedding which he attended. ‘We have brought her into this world and provided her with unconditional love and opportunities to grow in all respects. Now we want you to provide her opportunities and affection that she deserves. Do you understand that young man?’ Instantly Bob’s attention got diverted to the 7000 people of his Company , who were also spouses, sons and daughters of somebody and their parents also wanted meaningful opportunities and life for them.
At this point Bob gathered some statistical data.
- Every 3 out of 4 people working are disengaged from their work,
- 7 out of 8 feel their Company does not care for them.
- 74% of people say work is leading cause of stress.
At Barry Wehmiller they try to heal this brokenness and restore people to their full and joyful humanity.
To force or to command them is not advisable. Instead they should be inspired and guided.
Barry Wehmiller’s business also involves in improving the lives of their stake holders. They take care of this by building Capital Equipment and offering Engineering Consultancy.
Along the way Bob has realised that Good Leadership and good Parenting are identical and one affects the other.
Every Company may not be Family Business, but every Company can be a Business Family – with unconditional love, forgiveness and nurturing. Build each other to greatness.
Healthcare Crisis is the Crisis of Caring.
Statistics says that on Monday mornings the rate of heart attacks rises by 20%. Work related stress is one of the key factors for this. Such Medical care is expensive. So instead of concentrating on cost cutting, the focus of the leaders should be more towards the caring for all those lives, whose well being has been entrusted to them.
The sense of safety and trust in ourselves and in the world surrounding us is the most fundamental, strong and driving factor for performance. At Barry Wehmiller , Bob and his team were successful in transforming a self-centered environment in to progressive culture , which was totally free from fear, gossip and politics – the elements which plays a crucial part in ruining the work culture of an organization . There is also a spirit of collaboration and respect for each other. This is the outcome of a thought process which was implemented very carefully, consistently and strategically.
Organisational Empowerment Team.
This was created to initiate and oversee cultural initiatives across the organisation. Bob wanted this team to organise initiatives to ensure continuation of culture initiated by him beyond his lifetime. This led to – Living Legacy of Leadership (L3) in 2006 and Barry Wehmiller University in 2008.
L3 was Japnese Lean Culture Concept modified from production to people’s Continuous Improvement Program.
Barry Wehmiller University
With Bob’s driving of cultural changes and Leaders as well as Team Members cooperating was creating huge amount of experiential knowledge. This University was created to organise that knowledge systematically and create Instructional Structure for conduct of courses for various levels suitable to impart that culture.
The basic foundation of this university is to learn from each other’s talent and personal growth experiences. This university targets on inculcating the dynamic educational program by creating the contents of the course structure which involves in building culture of service at different levels among the team members.
Economic Downturn in Society – 2008 – 09
There was a Economic Depression in the Society due to issue of Lehman Brothers. Most organisations found no option but to lay off of the employees. However Bob’s response was that of shared sacrices so that no one is badly hit. He executed the concept where salaries of all employees were cut down proportionally. It was smoothly accepted by all. Bob had also taken a cut on salary from $8,75000 to $ 10,500 to lead by example. This resulted in keeping everyone’s job intact and all the people felt secure and bonded.
Simon Sinek describes this as ” You can not judge quality of a Company in good times. You can only judge it when the chips are down. Numbers will not come to your aid. People will.”
Barry Wehmiller was able to recover from the economic slowdown in merely nine months – ahead of broader economic recovery. During this major economic distress, the Company witnessed a true cultural bonding and unity as a whole. The organisation in 2010 had a record year in the earnings and since then the Company has been performing well financially to achieve a CAGR of 16% compounded year on year. Bob had people-centered approach to business and this has helped him in building an organisation that last more than 100 years. All the staff who had sacrificed in the crisis including 401(k) were fully rewarded and recompensed.
In this part Bob describes about the applicability of his theory to any Organisation – Manufacturing, Non Profit, Government, Military etc. The fact of the matter is that if you take care of your people, in turn they will take care of your business, which in turn will help your business to scale high. Trust is the foundation of leadership. So if you trust your people, they will reciprocate in the same way. If a caring culture prevails , ordinary people will perform extraordinary tasks,. Here Bob has clearly mentioned about the Ten Commandments of Truly Human Leadership for guidance.
Though Barry Wehmiller was founded in the year 1885, but its actual transformation in terms of human leadership started more than a century later in the year 1997. This implies that even old organisations can undergo transformation, despite of all the odds and dysfunctions that an organization faces. This cannot be done overnight. The process needs deliberation and strategy formulation afresh. Of course, the top management has to buy in to this new idea of leadership .
As per Bob, Business Growth and People Growth are complimentary ideas, not separate. Later he states by using Abraham Lincon paraphrase – ‘Barry Wehmiller is business of the people, for the people, by the people.’ They are always scouting for newer possibilities which will provide ample scope to their people to lead towards progress by doing full justice to their inner talents .
Barry Wehmiller’s team has put together a checklist which can be followed by all the leaders as a routine like the pilots do before every flight, based on Vision and Mission document .
The idea ‘Everybody Matters’ has an immense potential, as certain talents are hidden within people which, when realized can surprise, charm and uplift themselves as well as others and the world .
Bob has designed an unusual leadership practice. Unlike the other leaders who only speak about caring for their employees; Bob and Barry Wehmiller has practically implemented it in its true spirit and has shown that the best way to do business is to really take care of your people and business will be taken care of automatically.
The basic idea of being good and considerate to everyone is noble.
However for the sake of business interest, there should be some limitations for tolerance. In upcoming editions, Bob and his team will do well to bring out the case studies of his leaders, handling difficult situations as well as employees. Dealing with violators of code of conduct and those misusing good faith also should be included.
During the time of appraisals , how the management will handle the bitterness of some employees is to be seen.
Handling such situations where sometimes Govt. organizations are interfered by politicians will be a question.
Bob’s book is full of stories and real life examples of his leaders and other employees, narrating their experiences before and after getting exposure to Bob’s Management Practices.
I strongly recommend organisations around the world to consider and adopt these practices. Hope you like this Everybody Matters book review.
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