A Truly Human Book Club

Almost four years after the release of Everybody Matters – the book I wrote with my friend Raj Sisodia that chronicles Barry-Wehmiller’s cultural transformation journey – we continue to see the impact the book and our stories are having in many different organizations and industries. This week, two articles mentioned it.

One article told the story of HPC, an Illinois-based plastics company that adopted lean and people-centric principles. Three years ago, their CFO, Bob Ruehl, began holding book clubs to help drive these principles deep into the hearts of their people.

When you take on the great responsibility of leadership, you must provide the care and inspiration and support that those precious human beings within your span of care need to become everything they were meant to be. Click To TweetHPC generally picks a lean-centric or people-centric book, such as Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Barry-Wehmiller Chairman and CEO Bob Chapman.

“Between lean principles and philosophies and some of the people-centric leadership, we’ll have about five book clubs going now. I facilitate two, and we’ll pick the books and have about seven to 10 people in a group,” Ruehl said.

The book clubs include weekly reading assignments, and the meetings talk about key points and “create disciples of this movement we’re doing here,” Ruehl said.

“I think my greatest achievement so far is to see my fellow employees really start to embrace the lean philosophies and lean culture through our book clubs; when I can connect those guys, it’s just a wonderful thing. I think it’s the teaching moments more than anything for me that I’m able to get people that are wanting to go along on this journey,” he said. “We often talk here about how you can get people to be compliant or you can get people to be engaged, and I would far rather get people to be engaged.”

Another article, this time from Entrepreneur, details how our message of Truly Human Leadership has even impacted the fashion industry!

Rachel Lim, co-founder of womenswear company Love, Bonito, started her company in Singapore with two friends on $500. They sold clothing online to have extra money after their families were affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Twenty years later, Love, Bonito was worth over $14 million.

In the Entrepreneur article, Lim says she did not have a traditional mentor as she was learning to lead a business, so she turned to books. She shared a few of her favorites, one of which was Everybody Matters, about which she said:

Bob Chapman, chief executive of Barry-Wehmiller, a US ($3 billion) company, tells the story of his conversion from traditional management practices—using people as resources to help the company profit—to believing that the purpose of his company is to enhance the lives of the people the company touches, beginning with employees. “It is about living with an abundance mind-set: an abundance of patience, love, hope, and opportunity,” the authors (wrote.) This is by far one of the best and most fundamental books on the topic. Every company is only as good as its most important asset—people.

I’m constantly asked if Truly Human Leadership can work outside of manufacturing, if it can work in public as well as private companies. The facts remain the same – everyone wants to know that who they are and what they do matter and we have the power as leaders to make that happen. When you take on the great responsibility of leadership, you must provide the care and inspiration and support that those precious human beings within your span of care need to become everything they were meant to be. The ripple effect of this is not only good for your organization but resonates far beyond the walls of your building.

I can’t speak to the feelings of the people who work in these plastics or fashion companies, but I’m encouraged to see that other leaders are reading our story. My hope is they are taking the lessons we learned very seriously.

We’re going to keep spreading our message because we know we can change the world. Won’t you help us?

Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $2+ billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting firm, Barry-Wehmiller’s 11,000 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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