Is Your Leadership An Inside Job?

How are a retired five-star U.S. Air Force General, a teenager in Colorado, a family business owner in North Carolina, and a university professor from Ohio connected to Barry-Wehmiller?

They have all learned to be more effective communicators, as a result of us taking what we’ve learned inside the walls of Barry-Wehmiller to people on the outside.

As business leaders, we have a responsibility to leave a mark on our communities as well. One of the ways we are doing this at Barry-Wehmiller is through our non-profit organization, Our Community LISTENS.

In 2008 we launched Barry-Wehmiller University to teach the “Does your leadership extend beyond the walls of your organization?” Click To Tweetconcepts of Truly Human Leadership to our ]associates. We believed, however, that being an effective communicator was fundamental to being an effective leader. So we developed Communications Skills Training [“How to Change Your Life in Three Days, Feb. 13, 2013] as a prerequisite to all the courses we offer through our University. After the first group of associates finished the three-day course which includes modules on interpersonal communication, active listening, and effective confrontation, my wife and I met with them to hear their thoughts.

“Have you noticed an improvement in the way you interact with your team members here at work?”  I asked.

Everyone in the room nodded, but one of the participants said, “Where I have really noticed a difference is at home.  My teenage daughter now calls me and wants to talk!”  Immediately the room starting buzzing and others shared that they too felt the course was most impactful in their personal lives.

Later that day, my wife said, “Bob, this is too important to keep inside the walls of Barry-Wehmiller.  We need to find a way to share it with the outside world!”

The idea took flight and earlier this year we launched Our Community LISTENS. Through it, Barry-Wehmiller professors train community members to teach an adapted curriculum at no cost to people in the community. We have already established outreach programs in Charlotte, NC and Aspen, CO with plans to establish programs in additional locations. Almost 300 people outside of Barry-Wehmiller have benefitted from this training. They constantly share comments like these that show its dramatic impact:

This class inspired me to become a better person – both at work and at home.  I now stop and pause, especially with my family, to realize the impact of what I say and how I listen.

I learned that my father cares and my brother listens, that my mother is simply curious and my best friend is slightly insecure. Each merely expresses themselves and cares to be listened to differently. I am just discovering that is part of what makes life so beautiful and how blessed I am to have been given the tools to finally see it clearly.

It is not about changing or fixing you, but rather about taking your special and unique qualities and learning how to use them to communicate. This class gave me the ability to accept and love myself. This class changed my life!

I expected mechanics, fundamental techniques and application.  It went so much deeper than that.  It went into the essence of the person. To finally have the opportunity to learn how to listen unlocks so much capability.

Thank you for giving me the confidence to make this change in my life.

The course work you have put together is really exceptional and I continue to look back at it and think about various aspects in an effort to continue to grow and incorporate these teachings into my life.

 When we receive feedback like this, I have no doubt that Our Community LISTENS is successful. Their personal lives are enriched; their community is enhanced. Truly Human Leadership is touching lives outside the walls of Barry-Wehmiller.

Does your leadership extend beyond the walls of your organization?

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.


  • Lee Wenzel says:

    great course helps you realy find out how you are. Disc profile is an eye opener

  • Nicole Helprin says:

    I’m really looking forward to taking this course later this month. Please thank your wife for her generous insight that the rest of the world can greatly benefit from the great work you are doing.

  • Jerry McCoy says:

    What a great opportunity. I can only hope this will be made available to the families here at the PA location of PCMC. I have taken many similar communications courses such as Dale Carnegie classes, but what is offered at BW is without a doubt the best communications skills class I have ever taken. Thanks for the training and opportunity to improve my life. Jerry McCOY

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