Don’t Confuse Your Why With Your What

August 21, 2013
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller
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What is your organization’s Why? Why do you do what you do? Are you succeeding? If not, then what?

As leaders in business, those are the tough questions we should be asking.

At Barry-Wehmiller our Why is clear to us: we’re in business so that our team members have a meaningful and fulfilling way to make their living. By providing a cultural environment through which they can realize their gifts, apply and develop their talents, and feel a genuine sense of fulfillment for their contributions, they go home better spouses, parents, children, friends, citizens of their communities.

In other words, Barry-Wehmiller is in business to improve lives. We do that through the building of capital equipment and offering of engineering consulting. But that’s our What, not our Why. Our What simply provides the vehicle through which we can enrich the lives of our team members, and the ripple effect of that extends far beyond the walls of our 65 locations around the globe.

IMG_1939As business leaders, it’s your job to lead your organization in finding the answers to those tough questions. If you’re a truly human leader—if you lead with a mindset of responsibility to the lives and families of those within your care –then you can be confident you’ll arrive at the right answers.

How will you know when you’re succeeding? You’ll begin seeing evidence of it everywhere.

Like I did last weekend.

This past Friday we met with the top sales executives from across the Barry-Wehmiller organization. We had gathered them and their spouses for a special event celebrating their contributions to the organization’s financial success.

Prior to the celebration dinner, however, we sat down with the group to hear their thoughts on how things were going. The nine salespeople talked about how they appreciate our motivation and incentive programs. They also appreciate our acknowledgment of their contributions. They spoke about our caring culture and the accountability they felt to the organization.

Then we asked the spouses how they felt. Keri, whose husband John joined our Northern Engraving/PCMC subsidiary nine years ago, shared this:

“John’s demeanor is completely different than it was with his previous company. You know how it is when you come home in a bad mood. You kick the dog and the dog bites the cat and so on. The ripple effect of an unhappy mood is tremendous. That’s how it used to be. Now, he comes home happy, more content. And because of that, we are happier.”

Our vision at Barry-Wehmiller of sending all of our team members home fulfilled is an ongoing journey. And, while we aren’t completely there yet, it is the people like Keri along the way who offer the evidence that Truly Human Leadership is working. We measure success by the way we touch the lives of people… people like John and Keri and their three sons.

Is your Why the right Why?


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Need help in applying principles of Truly Human Leadership in your organization? Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute is Barry-Wehmiller's leadership consulting firm that partners with other companies to create strategic visions, engage employees, improve corporate culture and develop outstanding leaders through leadership training, assessments and workshops.

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