Continuing the Mission

April 22, 2021
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller
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As you have likely noticed, we’ve given the Barry-Wehmiller website and our Truly Human Leadership blog a refresh.

The Barry-Wehmiller website has been updated to more clearly reflect our mission and values as a company. It also more directly connects our customers to our businesses’ websites, in the wide variety of industries in which they operate.

The Truly Human Leadership blog has been updated to reflect the multi-media hub of leadership content that it evolved into over the years. Our podcast (now renamed “Truly Human Leadership,”) our videos, posts written by me and many other talented leaders, along with insights from Chapman & Co Leadership Institute are now curated in an easy-to-navigate and search format.

It’s been almost ten years since we started the Truly Human Leadership blog. On Nov. 1, 2012, my first post was published.

Titled “Heeding My Call,” I described one of my many “revelations” on leadership. This one occurred while I was sitting in church listening to a sermon by my rector, Ed Salmon.

It dawned on me that I too had a congregation—a much larger one comprised of the thousands of team members in our business. And while Rector Salmon had only one hour per week to reach his audience, we have our team members 40 hours each week…

Since that moment in the pew, we have had many experiences that embody that power. These experiences have led us to the understanding that when we focus on creating a fulfilling experience for those in our care–when we focus on making sure our team members feel empowered, validated, cared for and integral to our shared vision– there is a ripple effect in their lives. They return home each day better spouses, parents, friends, neighbors, citizens of the world.

I now feel called to spread these leadership concepts with those outside our organization, in the hope that others will be inspired to take this people-centric view of leadership into their own organizations.

All these years later, the call to continue my mission in sharing this message is stronger than ever. And, unfortunately, the need for the message of Truly Human Leadership is greater than ever.

Has the leadership crisis that I described in my TEDx – given shortly before that first blog post – receded? There have been many signs of hope and new voices amplifying the call for changes in the way we lead. But the turmoil of the past year during the pandemic may have exacerbated the crisis, or reopened wounds that were beginning to heal.

I recently read a series of articles about the state of workplace relationships by the consulting organization, McKinsey & Company, that are just as damning and startling now as they would have been when my first blog post was published. 

In their studies, McKinsey found that:

56 % of American workers claim that their boss is mildly or highly toxic.

75 % of Americans say that the “boss is the most stressful part of their workday.”

It doesn’t seem like the needle has moved at all. If that many people see their leaders that negatively, we have much work to do.

Fortunately, organizations like McKinsey are starting to recognize and discuss many of the core parts of our message. Namely, that the way we lead impacts the way people live. McKinsey writes:

When it comes to employee happiness, bosses and supervisors play a bigger role than one might guess. Relationships with management are the top factor in employees’ job satisfaction, which in turn is the second most important determinant of employees’ overall well-being. According to our analysis, only mental health is more important for overall life satisfaction. Unfortunately, research also shows that most people find their managers to be far from ideal… And those describing very bad and quite bad relationships with management reported substantially lower job satisfaction than those with very good and quite good relationships…

It stands to reason that managers would play a crucial role in their employees’ workplace happiness. The wealth of literature on what makes for a good workplace highlights two aspects that line managers directly control: good work organization—that is, providing workers with the context, guidance, tools, and autonomy to minimize frustration and make their jobs meaningful—and psychological safety, which is the absence of interpersonal fear as a driver of employee behavior. With burnout on the rise, and stress and anxiety a leading cause of ill health and absenteeism, the emotional health of workers becomes particularly important.

Last year, Dr. Casey Chosewood, the Director of the Office for Total Worker Health at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was a guest on our podcast and talked about many of the things McKinsey points out in the above paragraphs. He is the person who first told us that the person you report to at work can be more important to your health than your family doctor.

All of this is to say that I am “heeding the call” I first received many years ago with more seriousness and determination than ever. And I take this occasion to introduce this new iteration of our Truly Human Leadership blog to reiterate to you, dear readers, that we are working harder than ever to change the world as we know it. To a world where caring is as important of a skill for a business leader as financial acumen. Where profit is viewed through the lens of its impact on all stakeholders, not just the shareholders of a company.

To date, the Truly Human Leadership blog has more than 350 posts. By exploring these pages, you’ll get a graduate education in leadership through lessons learned within Barry-Wehmiller and from the many friends and allies we have made along the way.

We have a long way to go on this journey together. In some ways, it feels like we’re just getting started. But I know the world we imagine where people think of others first is in sight.

I’ll leave you with a little more from the McKinsey article:

Shifting the behavior of an entire cadre of managers might seem a daunting proposition. But McKinsey research on changing organizational culture indicates the key elements required. Senior leaders can create a step change in both shareholder and social value by clearly articulating the sizable upsides to high job satisfaction, including educating managers on their pivotal roles and embedding quality of workplace relationships into manager development and performance appraisals. They can also act as critical change agents by embracing servant leadership and approaching everyone in their organization with compassion and genuine curiosity.

They recommend four things leaders can put into practice to improve workplace happiness. I’ve paired each with blog posts from this site for your further study.

Be kind.
Research shows that when employees perceive compassion or kindness from their leaders, they become more loyal to them. Loyalty in turn feeds better performance at work.
“Care is the Cure”

Be thankful.
Thanking team members routinely, frequently, generously, and genuinely costs nothing and sets up a positive dynamic where everyone wants to do better.
Podcast: Recognition and Celebration

Be positive.
Validating feelings, withholding judgment, and offering support bolster motivation and increase an individual’s sense of autonomy and self-competence, which in turn is directly linked to greater happiness and well-being.
The Often Overlooked Influence on Workplace Optimism

Be well.
Managers who prioritize their own self-care and well-being, including attention to diet, exercise, rest, and sleep, can better help others prioritize theirs.
wellbeing@work: The Power of the Pause

Thank you for reading the Truly Human Leadership blog and following along with us these past almost 10 years. If you like what you see, subscribe and please share with your network using the handy social sharing buttons. Now, more than ever, we need to turn up the volume on the message of Truly Human Leadership!


Related Posts

Bob Chapman / Nov 1, 2012
Heeding My Call
Bob Chapman / Oct 21, 2015
Rebuilding the Dream
Bob Chapman / Nov 29, 2017
Podcast: Bob Chapman

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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