Faces of Truly Human Leadership II

A few weeks ago, I posted the first in these series of blogs, showcasing Barry-Wehmiller’s hallmark recognition program. Our Guiding Principles of Leadership SSR Award celebrates team members whose thoughts, words and actions embody our people-centric culture.

These are elaborate ceremonies. The recipients don’t know they are chosen until it is revealed during the event. Often they are very emotional. The idea came to me after I visited one of our facilities in northern Wisconsin. Someone said to me, “You know Bob, you come here and you talk about these Guiding Principles of Leadership and we all feel good and then you leave and our normal behavior drifts back in. Isn’t there something we can do to stay inspired?”

I owned a unique car at the time, a Chevy SSR, which is a kind of People have a profound need to feel their life matters. Click To Tweetretro hot rod. So I came up with the idea of using cars as a recognition reward. Team members nominate fellow team members who they believe embody our leadership principles and winners are chosen by fellow team members from those nominees. Winners are then awarded the car to drive for a week in a ceremony when their family is present and they are surprised by the award and the family. We now have a whole fleet of different kinds of cars used throughout our companies around the world in these recognition ceremonies.

When I talk to the recipients of the award, many of them say the same thing. They can’t believe they won. They call their spouse, but the first person they take for a ride is their mother. Whether the winners are men or women, they all say they want to take their mother for a ride. Because they want the person who is the source of their goodness to know they turned out alright.

At Barry-Wehmiller, we are constantly looking for the goodness in people, holding up positive behavior and not focusing on the negative. People have a profound need to feel their life matters. And we want to make sure they know they do.

Here are a few more faces of Truly Human Leadership:

Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $3+ billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting firm, Barry-Wehmiller’s 12,000 team members are united around a common belief: we can use the power of business to build a better world. Chapman explores that idea in his Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family, available from Penguin Random House.


  • Mike Hayworth says:

    This award is like no other. As a previous recipient of the award I can say that the process is one of the things that make it special. Peer recognition and having your family along side of you while you are honored gives you the greatest feeling of accomplishment.

  • Kit Tennis says:

    I love the stories and photos that ground the SSR practice in real people, Bob! I’m going to share it with a new CST group this week.

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