Podcast: Q&A with Bob Chapman pt. 3

December 19, 2019
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller

This is the third and final part of the Everybody Matters Podcast where I answer questions submitted by our social media audience. You will find the questions below the You Tube embed. Don’t forget to go back and listen to part one and part two.

I hope you find the dialogue we’ve been having over these last three episodes as inspiring as I have. We will do it again in the future!

Questions this episode:

In Everybody Matters, you wrote about the journey that lead to the development of the Guiding Principles of Leadership at Barry Wehmiller. You said you (and your team) haven’t wanted to change a word of the original GPL document over the years. My question is how do you get buy-in from entry-level employees to believe that they are leaders within your organization and their leadership development begins when they walk in the door? The struggle we have pertaining to this lies in a system wide antiquated belief that leadership is synonymous with management and is hierarchical rather than systematic in nature.


What did you find as your biggest challenge to get the culture shift that now exists at Barry Wehmiller? For me I am finding the other senior leadership is stuck old business thought process and practices. The Supply Chain Group is really getting it. They understand that we are better together than we are as individuals. They absolutely love the encouragement from Simon Sinek’s messages. They want to impact people but clearly it has been a challenge and at times they feel overwhelmed. They can’t understand why others are resisting the culture shift that is necessary. Anything you can share would be greatly appreciated.


Dear Bob,

How can public education systems be improved to give birth to a new generation of entrepreneurs and leaders inspired by conscious capitalism?


I have read your book, we use it extensively in our leadership work, you have been to our organization to speak, I use your TED Talks in our leadership courses and have seen you speak in a number of venues.  I love the work you and your team is doing.  My question centers on the lives being impacted at work through your work, with the hope and evidence that it impacts lives at home as well.  Has there been any movement toward teaching this in the grade schools, teaching this to young parents starting families, marriage counseling, etc.?  Teaching it on the front-end more, as opposed to teaching in organizations which is more toward the back-end (and where we do a lot of our own development work as well unfortunately).


Dear Bob

I am a servant leader: I believe that I am there first and foremost to support the needs of my team. If they have what they need then they can perform their role with passion.

I am a headteacher in a special school for children with high levels of anxiety and Autism. There is not one person in that school that only does the hours that is in their contract and the whole school is run on goodwill. I love my team and what they do, both personally and professionally for our students and their families. However, this is now a very different school to the one I took over a year ago.

We belong to a large mental health organisation where the people above us are only interested in the bottom line (the ebitda) My boss is not a ‘leader’ he is not a ‘problem solver’ nor does he put the welfare of his ‘team’ into his agenda. He runs a blame culture.

I have tried for a year to model by my behaviour how to turn a culture around. And I have time and time again showed him how coaching and working through people and with the people in your team enable them to be themselves leaders and instil a sense of pride and responsibility in what they do.

The problems started when I realised that my team did not have all they needed in order to do their best work. Therefore I began asking for resources such as more therapist hours (a legal requirement for the majority of our students and, in fact paid for handsomely by each local authority). I did not realise my mistake until it was too late. As of today I have now been made redundant and not required to work my notice. I have no rights as I had not worked there for long enough. But my question is not about me, it is about my colleagues, is it possible for them to sustain that collaborative culture that we created together and stay in that positive bubble within a toxic organisation? Or will the school now return to the one that I first encountered upon my arrival?

Kindest regards and thank you for all you do.


Having read your book, you asked “is there ROI on caring ?” and “do you need permission from Corporate, to treat people better ?”

Yes, I do this at work .. and I received criticism “that is NOT your job, do your job !”

So my question is “how to prevent people from getting jealous ? especially management ? as they seem to have the need to show that they are the boss”.


To be honest, I’m struggling.  I read Everybody Matters a couple of years ago, after being introduced by my mentor.  At first, I wasn’t ready for it and made a lot of excuses, both for myself and for my work environment (past and present).  But something kept pushing me back to the concepts.  I’ve realized that I’ve never worked in an environment that didn’t either 1). Look at their workforce as a means to an end and/or 2). Have a it’s just business mentality.

I’m currently running the HR department for a growing company owed by an equity investor.  I was starting to quietly look for my next professional adventure and had a couple of near hits, but then I was given the opportunity to analyze/improve the benefits so I stopped looking as this is a project I’ve been begging for and discouraged from for years.  Benefits were meant as cost savings until recently, when potential corporate candidates started turning down interviews based on the benefits (or lack thereof).  I’ve already been able to improve the 401k considerably and am working on the health plan and PTO policy as we speak.  But at the same time, these discrepancies between how I think/feel (I’m a long term, strategic thinker) are exhausting.

I know this is long winded and maybe the back story isn’t important, but it’s also the crux of my professional life and my crossroads and therefore it seems overwhelmingly so to me.  My question is more foundational.  Is it better/can you make more of a difference staying within a non-people centric system while striving to make the small improvements as you can and create a more positive climate as a result? Or to seek an environment that is more aligned with the path you want to personally go down?  And if you do seek a more people-centric environment, how hard are bad habits that have naturally resulted to break?  This may be too personal of a question, but it’s been my biggest mental struggle for months and I’m no closer to an answer then in the beginning.

-Name withheld

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