Sharing Our Message: Jacob Stoller and Fred Kiel

The Oct. 6 release of Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family, the book about Barry-Wehmiller’s cultural journey that I co-authored with Raj Sisodia, is rapidly approaching.

We’re very excited about our book, but it’s going to take many voices to change the conversation about a better way to lead in business.

Two books recently published are helping shape that discussion. And we’re honored that they feature our thoughts and views. Both of these authors shine a light on different aspects of people-centric leadership. If you’re interested in learning more about Truly Human Leadership, these books would be welcome additions to your library.

The Lean CEO by Jacob Stoller

It’s going to take many voices to change the conversation about a better way to lead in business. Click To TweetThe Lean CEO is an examination of how many companies are going beyond traditional use of Lean methodology to find deeper meaning for it within their organizations. Lean practices are the Toyota Production System philosophy of eliminating waste and improving efficiency.

As we’ve written on this blog before, when it came to implementing those principles in our company, we needed to marry Lean tools with our own vision of people-centric leadership.

In his introduction, Jacob has an interesting comment about many “Lean” companies, an observation we also share:

Most people see Lean merely as a set of tactical methods, and most organizations that practice Lean do so superficially. Typically, a company might undertake a series of Lean projects to reduce costs, cut down on defects, or solve a bottleneck in a manufacturing process. These isolated attempts rarely result in real change, and invariably lead to the abandonment of Lean for the next flavor of the month.

Jacob later writes, in contrast, about Barry-Wehmiller:

As Chapman points out, the vision bets strongly on the sincere desire of people to make a positive contribution to the workplace. In other words, if a company removes the barriers that prevent employees from realizing their potential, the employees will do the rest. Furthermore, Chapman is adamant that providing fulfilling work for employees must be the number one objective that trumps all others: treating people well cannot be a means to some other end.

A Barry-Wehmiller, we created the Living Legacy of Leadership (also called L3), our own brand of Lean manufacturing. Using a more humanistic approach to Lean, we focus first on improving our team members’ daily work life and long-term fulfillment with the byproducts being reduced waste and improved overall performance. It is about people, not waste. It’s good to see Jacob spotlight other companies who are taking steps to adapt lean to a more people-centric way of thinking.

Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win by Fred Kiel

Return on Character not only answers the question of whether character matters in leadership (of course it does!) but also presents hard evidence of how it leads to better businesses and organizations.

As Fred says in the preface:

I’ve written this book to offer concrete reasons for rethinking our ideas about effective leadership, and to map out the direct connection between strong character, principled behavior, and sustainable business results.

In one chapter, Fred writes about a conversation he and I had over lunch about how Barry-Wehmiller came to Truly Human Leadership. We are honored to be one of the companies Fred sets apart as an example of character-based leadership.

Right after the section where Fred talks about Barry-Wehmiller is a chapter about the effect valuing your people has on customers.

Fred asks a very important question:

Why do so many companies treat their customers as objects and provide them with poor service or products? Creating alienated, dissatisfied, even angry customers can’t be good for the bottom line… These leaders and their organizations fail to treat most people outside the bubble – including customers and the majority of their employees—as real people. That’s not a sustainable business model.

Just as I have written here before, business leaders should be stewards of those who join their organization hoping to have meaningful careers with a company who views them as people not functions or objects. And our stewardship extends beyond the people who walk through our doors each day. Our stewardship extends to all of our stakeholders, including customers. Fred’s book has a great deal of discussion on these ideas, as seen in Barry-Wehmiller and many other companies.

There are many great books out there about leadership and how to build better businesses that focus on people. We can’t wait for Everybody Matters to come out in the fall and we’re excited for you to read it. We at Barry-Wehmiller feel our message is truly unique, one that will change the world one person and one business at a time. And just like Jacob and Fred, we’re taking steps to change the conversation about leadership in business and get that message out to as many people as possible.

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.

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