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What Great Leaders Get Right

This past spring, I had the opportunity to listen to Bob Chapman on the podcast Gut+Science with host Nikki Lewallen. The episode (originally recorded in November 2021) was so impactful for me, I immediately purchased Bob's book, "Everybody Matters" (2015, with co-author Raj Sisodia). I finally had a chance to start reading the book last week and there are so many key points that have struck a nerve for me.

If you're unfamiliar with Bob Chapman, he is the CEO of the $1.7 billion manufacturing company Barry-Wehmiller. His approach to leadership is exactly the strategy all organizations should adopt if they want to create a world-class culture built to serve employees.

Bob's approach is simple and I believe it is summed up in what he calls The 10 Commandments of Truly Human Leadership.

  1. Begin every day with a focus on the lives you touch.

  2. Know that leadership is the stewardship of the lives entrusted to you.

  3. Embrace leadership practices that send people home each day safe, healthy, and fulfilled.

  4. Align all actions to an inspirational vision of a better future.

  5. Trust the foundation of all relationships; act accordingly.

  6. Look for the goodness in people and recognize and celebrate it daily.

  7. Ask no more or less of anyone than you would of your own child.

  8. Lead with a clear sense of grounded optimism.

  9. Recognize and flex to the uniqueness of everyone.

  10. Always measure success by the way you touch the lives of people!

Really great leaders understand that they serve those they are entrusted to lead. People will spend approximately 90,000 hours of their life at work. Bob is spot on when he says, "Business could be the most powerful force for good in the world if leaders would embrace the awesome responsibility of leadership. Caring for people and giving them meaning, purpose, and fulfillment through their work is not in disharmony with creating value."

So how do you become a leader who cares deeply for their people? It starts with understanding yourself and your own leadership style. Self-awareness can help you identify your areas of strength as well as your areas of challenge. Next, you need to understand your people; their needs, desires, and motivations, and use that knowledge to guide your leadership strategies for each individual. Finally, you simply need to care deeply about those you lead.

People-centric, purpose-driven leaders create a "culture in which all team members can realize their gifts, share those gifts, and go home each day fulfilled" (Everybody Matters, p. 12). Be that type of leader!

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