Leader From a Leader: Bob Chapman

Bob Chapman is the Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, a manufacturing company, and engineering consulting firm. As the leader of a the struggling business his dad left him, with hard work and great focus, Bob Chapman has seen great financial success in business and has managed to change the platform for leadership.

Chapman explains in his new book "Everybody Matters" that he imagines a world full of caring work environments in which people can bring the best out of each other with trust, celebration, communication, respect and responsible freedom. While Chapman adapted his leadership into - True Human Leadership, his habits and leadership qualities began by putting people first and making sure his employees went home with something more than just a paycheck. He wanted them to go home fulfilled and knowing that they always have the opportunity to speak up, learn, and grow in his business.

The thing that makes Chapman a great leader is that he understands that his business needs to grow financially, but most importantly, he see's the responsibility he has on his employees to give them an unlimited amount of opportunities. Chapman said, 

"I was in the midst of raising six kids, feeling the deep sense of responsibility of making sure they were cared for and had the tools to develop into the people they were meant to be. It then dawned on me that I wanted to give that same opportunity to the team members who worked for me.” 

Chapman's true colors were shown in 2008 when Barry-Wehmiller was hit extremely hard during the recession. They lost nearly 30% percent of their orders overnight and started to discuss layoffs - as most manufacturing companies would do. Although it may seem like the easiest thing to do, and the quickest fix to their major problem, Bob Chapman exercised his True Human Leadership and refused to talk about layoffs.

He believed in his culture and felt the responsibility to protect his employees.

Bob and his leadership council came up with a furlough program which implemented that every employee, no matter the title, had to take four weeks of unpaid vacation throughout the year. Bob believed that it was better that everyone should suffer a little than any one person suffer a lot. When the message went throughout his company, moral was boosted and people started trading vacation days for work days for those who could afford it. They saved 20 million dollars and grew as a company through the recession.

Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last once said "A true leader would sacrifice the numbers to save the people, not sacrifice the people to save the numbers."

If that's the case, Bob Chapman is a True Leader.

If you want to learn more about True Human Leadership check out this ten-minute animated video of Bob Chapman's Ted Talk: