Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘Hewlett-Packard

The Productive Response to Failure

leave a comment »

Fred Smith - Founder and CEO of FEDEX

Fred Smith – Founder and CEO of FEDEX

The great and influential leaders were no strangers to failure. My research illustrates that most experienced levels of failure and adversity that would compel typical individuals to pack their bags and quit in frustration and disappointment. The levels of success they achieved did not come easily, but from persistence. Their personal levels of perseverance and self-reliance are what realistically defined them. Most viewed failure as a learning experience, rather than a defining event. Fred Smith (FedEx) observed, “Just because an idea isn’t implemented or doesn’t work out doesn’t mean that a person has failed.” [1]

Early in his career at Johnson & Johnson, General Robert Wood Johnson taught James Burke a valuable lesson about failure. “Shortly after he arrived at J&J in 1953 as a product director after three years at Procter & Gamble, Burke attempted to market several over-the-counter medicines for children. They all failed-and he was called in for a meeting with the chairman.

‘I assumed I was going to be fired,’ Burke recalls. ‘But instead, Johnson told me, ‘Business is all about making decisions, and you don’t make decisions without making mistakes. Don’t make that mistake again, but please be sure you make others.’”[2]

In 2001, John Chambers (Cisco) saw his company’s revenues and stock price fall off the cliff during the tech and telecom busts. He was challenged with the reality of massive and likely fatal failure. “Within days of realizing Cisco was crashing, Chambers leapt into trying to fix it. ‘He never dwelled on it,’ says Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM (IBM) … ‘John kept the company focused. He said this is where we are, and he drove the company forward.’

He reached out to [Jack] Welch (General Electric) and a handful of other CEOs. They told him that sudden downturns always take companies by surprise, ‘so I should quit beating myself up for being surprised,’ Chambers recalls. He did. Chambers decided that the free fall had been beyond his control. He now wraps it up in an analogy he retells time and again, likening the crash to a disastrous flood: It rarely happens, but when it does, there’s nothing you can do to stop it… Those other CEOs also told Chambers to figure out how bad it was going to get, take all the harsh action necessary to get through it and plan for the eventual upturn.” [3]

David Packard (Hewlett-Packard) faced failure and adversity in a gruff and straightforward manner. “When he returned to HP in the early 1970s after his stint as deputy secretary of defense and found the company on the verge of borrowing $100 million to cover a cash-flow shortage, he immediately met with employees and gave them what came to be known as a ‘Dave Gives ‘Em Hell’ speech. Packard lined up the division managers in front of employees and told them, ‘If they don’t get inventories under control, they’re not going to be your managers for very long.’ Within six months, the company once again had positive cash flow, to the tune of $40 million.” [4]

John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) advised, “‘Look ahead… Be sure that you are not deceiving yourself at any time about actual conditions.’ He notes that when a business begins to fail, most men hate ‘to study the books and face the truth.” [5]

[1] Federal Express’s Fred Smith (Inc. Magazine, October 1, 1986)
[2] Alumni Achievement Awards: James E. Burke (Harvard Business School, 2003)
[3] Maney Kevin, Chambers, Cisco Born Again (USA Today, January 21, 2004)
[4] O’Hanlon Charlene, David Packard: High-Tech Visionary (CRN, November 8, 2000)
[5] Baida Peter, Rockefeller Remembers (American Heritage Magazine, September/October 1988, Volume 39, Issue 6)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Read a Free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Your Commitment to Others Defines You as a Leader

with one comment

William Hewlett and David Packard - Founders of Hewlett-Packard

William Hewlett and David Packard – Founders of Hewlett-Packard

A commitment to others defines the profound level of humanity that the great leaders displayed. They recognized employees, vendors and members of their communities as individuals, but also as valued human beings that had families to care for. They were never perceived as nameless assets, to be easily dismissed. A noteworthy illustration of this level of commitment is found in John Patterson (National Cash Register). “In-plant healthcare, company sponsored vacation trips, children’s programs, and even an employee country club were only a few of Patterson’s employee benefits. Other industrialists accused him of coddling his workers. Patterson believed this paternalistic treatment of his workers, especially the Victorian era ladies, was not only the right thing to do but was also good for business.” [1]

Hewlett-Packard established a “gold standard” for employee commitment that was ahead of its time, and replicated by numerous other companies. “Many leaders claim to appreciate the value of talent in their organization, but [David] Packard also seemed to understand the nature of talent. Rather than engineer their company to use people like replaceable parts, Packard and Hewlett respected their employees. They refused for example, to pursue boom and bust contract work because they did not want to go through cycles of hiring and then laying people off. They wanted the kind of contribution only loyalty can produce, so they modeled loyalty to their workers.” [2]

In Chapter 9 you recall went into detail about the great leaders’ character traits. One of the defining characteristics was found to be a deep sense of social responsibility from which this commitment to others stemmed from. Henry Heinz (H.J. Heinz) “believed that a person only developed so much as the people under their charge developed. As such, he made it the mandate of all of his top executives to take a pro-active interest in their employees, and to cultivate a spirit of respect and appreciation throughout his company. He encouraged solidarity amongst his workers no matter what their rank. Indeed, one of Heinz’s proudest accomplishments was in never having been witness to a strike within any of his own factories. He believed that if employers kept in close and sympathetic touch with their workers, any labor disputes that arose could be easily dissolved in the spirit of friendship. His theory proved to be true.” [3]

The same sense of social responsibility motivated Howard Schultz’s (Starbucks) commitment to his employees. “As the company began to expand rapidly in the ‘90s, Schultz always said that the main goal was ‘to serve a great cup of coffee.’ But attached to this goal was a principle: Schultz said he wanted ‘to build a company with soul.’ This led to a series of practices that were unprecedented in retail. Schultz insisted that all employees working at least 20 hours a week get comprehensive health coverage – including coverage for unmarried spouses. Then he introduced an employee stock-option plan. These moves boosted loyalty and led to extremely low worker turnover, even though employee salaries were fairly low.” [4]


[1]  John Henry Patterson (1844-1922) (NCR Corporation; home.paoline.com/knippd/whoincr/patterson.htm)

[2]  Orfalea Paul, Helfert Lance, Lowe Atticus and Zatkowsky Dean, Inspirational Figures David Packard (West Coast Asset Management)

[3]  Carmichael Evan, Lesson #3: Engage with Your Employees (EvanCarmichael.com)

[4]  Skeen Dan, Howard Schultz Secrets for Success (Success Television, April 14, 2010)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

If you would like to learn more about the commitment of the great American leaders to others through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Read a Free Chapter

 

//

Should Profit Be the Only Measure of Success?

leave a comment »

William Hewlett and David Packard - Founders of Hewlett-Packard

William Hewlett and David Packard – Founders of Hewlett-Packard

A commitment to others defines the profound level of humanity that the great leaders displayed. They recognized employees, vendors and members of their communities as individuals, but also as valued human beings that had families to care for. They were never perceived as nameless assets, to be easily dismissed.

A noteworthy illustration of this level of commitment is found in John Patterson (National Cash Register). “In-plant healthcare, company sponsored vacation trips, children’s programs, and even an employee country club were only a few of Patterson’s employee benefits. Other industrialists accused him of coddling his workers. Patterson believed this paternalistic treatment of his workers, especially the Victorian era ladies, was not only the right thing to do but was also good for business.” [1]

Hewlett-Packard established a “gold standard” for employee commitment that was ahead of its time, and replicated by numerous other companies. “Many leaders claim to appreciate the value of talent in their organization, but [David] Packard also seemed to understand the nature of talent.

Rather than engineer their company to use people like replaceable parts, Packard and Hewlett respected their employees. They refused for example, to pursue boom and bust contract work because they did not want to go through cycles of hiring and then laying people off. They wanted the kind of contribution only loyalty can produce, so they modeled loyalty to their workers.” [2]

In Chapter 9 you recall went into detail about the great leaders’ character traits. One of the defining characteristics was found to be a deep sense of social responsibility from which this commitment to others stemmed from.

Henry Heinz (H.J. Heinz) “believed that a person only developed so much as the people under their charge developed. As such, he made it the mandate of all of his top executives to take a pro-active interest in their employees, and to cultivate a spirit of respect and appreciation throughout his company.

He encouraged solidarity amongst his workers no matter what their rank. Indeed, one of Heinz’s proudest accomplishments was in never having been witness to a strike within any of his own factories. He believed that if employers kept in close and sympathetic touch with their workers, any labor disputes that arose could be easily dissolved in the spirit of friendship. His theory proved to be true.” [3]

The same sense of social responsibility motivated Howard Schultz’s (Starbucks) commitment to his employees. “As the company began to expand rapidly in the ‘90s, Schultz always said that the main goal was ‘to serve a great cup of coffee.’

But attached to this goal was a principle: Schultz said he wanted ‘to build a company with soul.’ This led to a series of practices that were unprecedented in retail. Schultz insisted that all employees working at least 20 hours a week get comprehensive health coverage – including coverage for unmarried spouses. Then he introduced an employee stock-option plan.

These moves boosted loyalty and led to extremely low worker turnover, even though employee salaries were fairly low.” [4]

Related:

References:

  1. John Henry Patterson (1844-1922) (NCR Corporation; home.paoline.com/knippd/whoincr/patterson.htm)
  2. Orfalea Paul, Helfert Lance, Lowe Atticus and Zatkowsky Dean, Inspirational Figures David Packard (West Coast Asset Management)
  3. Carmichael Evan, Lesson #3: Engage with Your Employees (EvanCarmichael.com)
  4. Skeen Dan, Howard Schultz Secrets for Success (Success Television, April 14, 2010)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It(Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) Read a Free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

 

//

Communication Has to Start With Telling the Truth

with 5 comments

Warren Buffett (L), chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and David Rubenstein (R), president of the Economic Club of Washington, participate in a discussion during the 25th anniversary celebration dinner of the Economic Club of Washington June 5, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Warren Buffett (L), chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and David Rubenstein (R), president of the Economic Club of Washington, participate in a discussion during the 25th anniversary celebration dinner of the Economic Club of Washington June 5, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway) remarked, “‘It’s vital to be able to communicate well… Just being able to communicate with others on the job adds at least 50% to your value.” Open and effective communications at all levels solves many problems and reduces conflict before it even occurs. Lee Iacocca (Chrysler) declared, “A leader has to communicate. I’m not talking about running off at the mouth or spouting sound bites. I’m talking about facing reality and telling the truth…

Communication has to start with telling the truth, even when it’s painful.” Iacocca notes the importance of intellectual honesty as part of the communication process. “Iacocca says he’s not talking about verbosity or sound bites. He means facing reality and telling the truth, even when it’s painful. If you apply spin, people will know—they’re not stupid—and they’ll stop listening.”

“Peter Drucker [felt] the most valuable asset in a firm is the collective knowledge of its employees. But to realize that value, the people in an organization have to be able to share that knowledge. That means ‘them that’s got it’ have to be able to give it to ‘them that don’t.’ And that transaction requires two-way communication between inspired transmitters and welcome receivers.” The great leaders understood this. In fact, most spent a great deal of their time on the “factory floor” meeting with managers, supervisors and employees to see firsthand what is happening and to understand the problems and issues facing their companies.

At Hewlett-Packard it was discovered that “‘Management by Walking Around’ improves communication, improves quality, improves teamwork, and improves profits. Hewlett and Packard’s visible presence and easy availability (they insisted on a company-wide open-door policy, believing that interruptions were a small price to pay for the advantages of open and frank communication with the talented people they hired) earned them deep credibility with their co-workers. A drill press operator on the outskirts of the factory knew that the CEO and President understood what he did and appreciated his contribution.”

As was previously pointed out, John Patterson (National Cash Register) actually moved his office into the middle of his factory floor. While other leaders, such as Henry Heinz (H.J. Heinz), Harvey Firestone (Firestone Tire), William Proctor (Proctor & Gamble), and George Westinghouse (Westinghouse) did not go to that extreme, they still remained highly visible, and openly and frequently communicated with their employees. In recognition of his frequent presence on the factory floor, Harvey Firestone’s casket was walked through his factory one last time, at the time of his death.

The great leaders spent the majority of their time traveling and communicating with employees and key constituencies. This allowed them to become personally acquainted and to influence employees on all levels. It also provided them with the opportunity to elicit feedback to make more accurate and fact-based decisions.

Fredrick Crawford (TRW) spent “much of his time speaking to employees and projecting the force of his ideas and his personality. One observer called him ‘a natural leader of tremendous vitality, self-assurance and singleness of purpose.’ But there was more to the Thompson program than Crawford. At all levels of the organization, managers tried to convince workers that the company had their best interests at heart…

Thompson managers referred employees as ‘members of the Thompson family’ and tried to minimize status distinctions between managers and workers… the firm’s policies were guided by an effort ‘to eliminate class lines and have our relationships on a first name basis.’”

While this may appear commonplace, some influential leaders like Cary Fiorina (Hewlett-Packard), Richard Fuld (Lehman Brothers) and Roger Smith (General Motors) avoided meeting with their employees. Not only that, they strictly limited their accessibility to them. These leaders, among others who exhibited this characteristic, experienced substantial problems on multiple levels.

Related:

The Need to Test Opinions Against the Facts

The Capacity to Face Reality

Don’t Push Out Figures When Facts Are Going in the Opposite Direction

References:

  1. Stein Ben, Ben Stein: More from My Dinner with Warren (Fortune Magazine, January 7, 2010)
  2. Iacocca Lee, Where Have All the Leaders Gone? (Scribner, 2007)
  3. Iacocca on the Need for Leadership Now (Business Management Daily, March 31, 2010)
  4. Willax Paul A., To Communicate Better, Improve Your Listening Skills (New Hampshire Business Review, September 28, 2007)
  5. Orfalea Paul, Helfert Lance, Lowe Atticus and Zatkowsky Dean, Inspirational Figures David Packard (West Coast Asset Management)
  6. Jacoby Sanford M., Reckoning With Company Unions: The Case of Thompson Products, 1934-1964 (Industrial and Labor Relations Review, October 1, 1989)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) Read a Free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

If You Put Fences Around People, You Get Sheep

with 6 comments

Hewlett-Packard Company co-founders David Packard (seated) and William Hewlett run final production tests on a shipment of the 200A audio oscillator. The picture was taken in 1939 in the garage at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto, California, where they began their business.

Hewlett-Packard Company co-founders David Packard and William Hewlett

Empowerment, delegation and team building need to have a proper environment where they can be nurtured, have the ability to grow and ultimately be ingrained into the corporate culture.

It is surprising how many companies launch training initiatives in these areas without obtaining management buy-in, and then wonder why they do not firmly take root.

The lessons from the practices the great leaders employed illustrates that if empowerment and team building strategies are ever going to work, they must be initiated, endorsed and fully supported by senior management. The great leaders clearly understood this and in many cases institutionalized these practices in their companies.

3M possesses a well-earned reputation for being a highly innovative company. During its early years, William McKnight focused on the development of unique and ingenious products and applications.

“After the development of masking tape, McKnight learned a crucial lesson about letting his engineers follow their instincts. He soon codified this lesson into a policy known as the 15% rule.

‘Encourage experimental doodling,’ he told his managers. ‘If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.’

Still in place today, the rule lets 3M engineers spend up to 15% of their work time pursuing whatever project they like. Subsequent policies and programs—like Genesis Grants (an internal venture capital fund available to engineers whose ideas have been turned down by management) and the 25% rule (requiring that each division generate a quarter of its sales from products introduced within the past five years), which in 1993 became the 30% rule—furthered 3M’s climate of innovation.” [1]

Under the tutelage of David Packard and William Hewlett, Hewlett-Packard saw a number of innovative empowerment practices incorporated into its corporate culture. “David Packard and Bill Hewlett’s approach to management bequeathed many gifts to today’s managers and their teams.

‘Management by Objective,’ for example, empowered individuals to be creative problem-solvers. Not only does the process create an organic and self-sustaining kind of teamwork, but it prevents ‘diworsification’ for companies, which can stay focused on what they do best and what fits their core competencies.” [2]

Donald Kendall (PepsiCo) fashioned an environment that was known for hiring only the best people and fully supporting their jobs. “PepsiCo deeply believes that managers who act like owners, run lean, and get big results should get big rewards.

PepsiCo treats its managers extremely well. Top middle managers earn between $96,000 and $144,000 (1989) annually, not counting bonuses, stock options, and other perks. How does it justify this largess?

Says Roger Enrico: ‘Treating the people well who produce is cheaper than having a big bureaucracy following them around trying to keep down costs.’” [3]

Timothy Koogle (Yahoo) noted the unique environment Yahoo created to facilitate empowerment and improve decision-making.

He explained, “We get real clear about what we’re going to do – not necessarily how – so we’ve got a focused strategy. But then we drive decisions out to the organization and that’s real different from kind of past generations of business if you will, that were very hierarchical where most of the decisions had to flow up through the chain and flow all the way back down the chain.

Here we actually do distribute the decisions out to everyone who’s got authority to build great product and great service. But what it means is you’re making a lot of decisions in parallel and what that means is you can execute faster and that’s a real key in our environment because it’s growing real fast, changing all the time, and there is a lot of competition.” [4]

The great leaders provided their employees with the necessary tools to effectively harness their power, but more importantly, they created healthy environments where they could flourish.

As General Robert Woods (Sears) articulated,

We put our faith in men, not systems. I like to let a man learn by making a few mistakes, as long as they don’t cost too much.” [5]

Related:

“Hire Character and Train Skills”

Attaining Organizational Results Requires Visionary Thinking and Planning on Multiple Levels

Leaders Succeed When Employees Are Successful

Focusing Employees on Common Goals

References:

  1. Lukas Paul, 3M a Mining Company Built on a Mistake Stuck It Out Until a Young Man Came Along with Ideas About How to Tape Those Blunders Together as Innovations – Leading to Decades of Growth (Fortune Magazine, April 1, 2003)
  2. Orfalea Paul, Helfert Lance, Lowe Atticus and Zatkowsky Dean, Inspirational Figures David Packard (West Coast Asset Management)
  3. Dumaine Brian, Those Highflying Pepsico Managers (Fortune Magazine, April 10, 1989)
  4. Gardner David and Gardner Tom, Fool Interview with Tim Koogle, Chairman and CEO of Yahoo! (Fool, April 18, 2000)
  5. Retail Trade: The General’s General Store (Time Magazine, February 25, 1952)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) Read a Free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Should Profit Be the Only Measure of Success?

with one comment

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
Credit: Spencer Platt – Getty Images

A commitment to others defines the profound level of humanity that the great leaders displayed. They recognized employees, vendors and members of their communities as individuals, but also as valued human beings that had families to care for. They were never perceived as nameless assets, to be easily dismissed.

A noteworthy illustration of this level of commitment is found in John Patterson (National Cash Register). “In-plant healthcare, company sponsored vacation trips, children’s programs, and even an employee country club were only a few of Patterson’s employee benefits. Other industrialists accused him of coddling his workers. Patterson believed this paternalistic treatment of his workers, especially the Victorian era ladies, was not only the right thing to do but was also good for business.” [1]

Hewlett-Packard established a “gold standard” for employee commitment that was ahead of its time, and replicated by numerous other companies. “Many leaders claim to appreciate the value of talent in their organization, but [David] Packard also seemed to understand the nature of talent.

Rather than engineer their company to use people like replaceable parts, Packard and Hewlett respected their employees. They refused for example, to pursue boom and bust contract work because they did not want to go through cycles of hiring and then laying people off. They wanted the kind of contribution only loyalty can produce, so they modeled loyalty to their workers.” [2]

In Chapter 9 you recall went into detail about the great leaders’ character traits. One of the defining characteristics was found to be a deep sense of social responsibility from which this commitment to others stemmed from.

Henry Heinz (H.J. Heinz) “believed that a person only developed so much as the people under their charge developed. As such, he made it the mandate of all of his top executives to take a pro-active interest in their employees, and to cultivate a spirit of respect and appreciation throughout his company.

He encouraged solidarity amongst his workers no matter what their rank. Indeed, one of Heinz’s proudest accomplishments was in never having been witness to a strike within any of his own factories. He believed that if employers kept in close and sympathetic touch with their workers, any labor disputes that arose could be easily dissolved in the spirit of friendship. His theory proved to be true.” [3]

The same sense of social responsibility motivated Howard Schultz’s (Starbucks) commitment to his employees. “As the company began to expand rapidly in the ‘90s, Schultz always said that the main goal was ‘to serve a great cup of coffee.’

But attached to this goal was a principle: Schultz said he wanted ‘to build a company with soul.’ This led to a series of practices that were unprecedented in retail. Schultz insisted that all employees working at least 20 hours a week get comprehensive health coverage – including coverage for unmarried spouses. Then he introduced an employee stock-option plan.

These moves boosted loyalty and led to extremely low worker turnover, even though employee salaries were fairly low.” [4]

Related:

References:

  1. John Henry Patterson (1844-1922) (NCR Corporation; home.paoline.com/knippd/whoincr/patterson.htm)
  2. Orfalea Paul, Helfert Lance, Lowe Atticus and Zatkowsky Dean, Inspirational Figures David Packard (West Coast Asset Management)
  3. Carmichael Evan, Lesson #3: Engage with Your Employees (EvanCarmichael.com)
  4. Skeen Dan, Howard Schultz Secrets for Success (Success Television, April 14, 2010)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) Read a Free Chapter

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Your Commitment to Others Defines You as a Leader

with 21 comments

John Patterson - National Cash Register Company

A commitment to others defines the profound level of humanity that the great leaders displayed. They recognized employees, vendors and members of their communities as individuals, but also as valued human beings that had families to care for. They were never perceived as nameless assets, to be easily dismissed. A noteworthy illustration of this level of commitment is found in John Patterson (National Cash Register). “In-plant healthcare, company sponsored vacation trips, children’s programs, and even an employee country club were only a few of Patterson’s employee benefits. Other industrialists accused him of coddling his workers. Patterson believed this paternalistic treatment of his workers, especially the Victorian era ladies, was not only the right thing to do but was also good for business.” [1]

Hewlett-Packard established a “gold standard” for employee commitment that was ahead of its time, and replicated by numerous other companies. “Many leaders claim to appreciate the value of talent in their organization, but [David] Packard also seemed to understand the nature of talent. Rather than engineer their company to use people like replaceable parts, Packard and Hewlett respected their employees. They refused for example, to pursue boom and bust contract work because they did not want to go through cycles of hiring and then laying people off. They wanted the kind of contribution only loyalty can produce, so they modeled loyalty to their workers.” [2]

In Chapter 9 you recall went into detail about the great leaders’ character traits. One of the defining characteristics was found to be a deep sense of social responsibility from which this commitment to others stemmed from. Henry Heinz (H.J. Heinz) “believed that a person only developed so much as the people under their charge developed. As such, he made it the mandate of all of his top executives to take a pro-active interest in their employees, and to cultivate a spirit of respect and appreciation throughout his company. He encouraged solidarity amongst his workers no matter what their rank. Indeed, one of Heinz’s proudest accomplishments was in never having been witness to a strike within any of his own factories. He believed that if employers kept in close and sympathetic touch with their workers, any labor disputes that arose could be easily dissolved in the spirit of friendship. His theory proved to be true.” [3]

The same sense of social responsibility motivated Howard Schultz’s (Starbucks) commitment to his employees. “As the company began to expand rapidly in the ‘90s, Schultz always said that the main goal was ‘to serve a great cup of coffee.’ But attached to this goal was a principle: Schultz said he wanted ‘to build a company with soul.’ This led to a series of practices that were unprecedented in retail. Schultz insisted that all employees working at least 20 hours a week get comprehensive health coverage – including coverage for unmarried spouses. Then he introduced an employee stock-option plan. These moves boosted loyalty and led to extremely low worker turnover, even though employee salaries were fairly low.” [4]


[1]  John Henry Patterson (1844-1922) (NCR Corporation; home.paoline.com/knippd/whoincr/patterson.htm)

[2]  Orfalea Paul, Helfert Lance, Lowe Atticus and Zatkowsky Dean, Inspirational Figures David Packard (West Coast Asset Management)

[3]  Carmichael Evan, Lesson #3: Engage with Your Employees (EvanCarmichael.com)

[4]  Skeen Dan, Howard Schultz Secrets for Success (Success Television, April 14, 2010)

Excerpt: Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about the commitment of the great American leaders to others through their own inspiring words and stories, refer to Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It. It illustrates how great leaders built great companies, and how you can apply the strategies, concepts and techniques that they pioneered to improve your own leadership skills. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

%d bloggers like this: