We’ve recently celebrated two important anniversaries at Barry-Wehmiller.
Our internal educational arm, Barry-Wehmiller University, turned 10 this year! Ten years of fostering personal growth, creating leaders and inspiring people within our organization.
When BWU was conceived in 2007, we had little idea what would ultimately come of it or the magnitude of its impact. We were in the early stages of our Truly Human Leadership journey and had been asking our team leaders how to blend the tools of lean with our vision of a people-centric culture as articulated in our Guiding Principles of Leadership. Over and over again, they responded that they needed leadership training. So, that was our challenge: “How do we create leadership education within this organization?”
Through the visioning session, we arrived at two main points. Our purpose was to develop an integrated, inspirational and sustainable way of living our vision. And we believed we could use the power of business to dramatically impact the world in a positive way.
We decided that we would develop our own material because we wanted it to be distinctively Barry-Wehmiller, evocative of our unique worldview and principles. We agreed that we wanted our professors to be Barry-Wehmiller team members. And we decided that the process of how we taught had to be inspirational and transformational from the beginning.
Unlike many corporate training experiences, the goal of BWU was not to “get more out of” our team members, but rather to teach them the fundamentals of leadership, so they might positively impact the lives of others in their roles as leaders. Not just the lives of people inside our organization, but anyone they might encounter in life, including – and maybe most importantly – their family.
Take, for example, Communication Skills – or now “Listen Like a Leader” – where we teach active listening. It’s the foundation for all our other classes and, based on the feedback we’ve received over the years, it might be our most impactful. We’ve had team member upon team member share stories of how this class has positively affected their relationships with their families. It has been so impactful that my wife and I formed a non-profit, Our Community Listens, to share the class with communities all over the U.S. Currently, almost 4,000 people have received listening training in more than 236 classes in 13 locations.
And in the spirit of using business to dramatically impact the world in a positive way, sharing what we’ve learned with other organizations who believe like we believe and are ready for positive change, we’re also celebrating the two-year anniversary of the BW Leadership Institute, which directly evolved from BWU to take our internal teachings to businesses throughout the world.
In St. Louis alone, BWLI has hosted 15 Think Like a Leader classes (formerly Beyond Benchmarking,) 10 Listen Like a Leader classes and 3 Inspire Like a Leader classes. That’s more than 800 people who have traveled from all over the world in the past two years to learn from our practitioners. In addition, the Leadership Institute has supported over 63 Listen Like a Leader classes globally – impacting more than 1,110 lives.
BWLI also brings our unique leadership training inside other organizations. To date, they have taught 20 Inspire Like a Leader off-sites classes within other businesses and are projected to teach approximately 15 more before the fall. With these classes averaging 40 participants, we are on our way to inspiring more than 1,600 lives through this class!
In just two years, the BW Leadership Institute has touched literally hundreds of organizations, but one of the things they’re most proud of is the diversity of client-organizations they have had the privilege to work with: from a wealth management firm in St. Louis, to an education service center in rural Texas, to one of the largest wine distributors in the U.S., to a NFL team, to one of the largest airlines. Their efforts are constantly affirming that our message is a truly HUMAN message that is universal and not bound to any particular industry or demographic.
Ten years ago, we could have never imagined that the ripple effect of our leadership journey would impact so many people. Out of our original idea of offering leadership training to our team members grew two organizations that now are also bringing leadership training to people around the globe. As we celebrate these special milestones we are proud of how Barry-Wehmiller is truly building a better world!