This is the company you would want to work for

Are you happy at work? Most of us are not. Why are most companies so bad at looking after their own people? Why are so many companies full of stress, politics, gossip, fear, insecurity, distrust, paranoia, cynicism, and self-interest? How many companies say they put their people first and then do not put that into practice. How many cultures do you think can be regarded as toxic? 

Treated like a child

I bet you still punch a clock in the morning, during lunch and when you leave in the evening. I bet you have to wait for your break before you can go to the toiler or have a coffee.


We are all making a b*lls out of managing and leading companies. We respond to difficulties with traditional management tactics like frequent restructurings and layoffs and succeed only in exacerbating the problems, damaging the culture, and destroying morale. One great truth that they have learned is this: The people are just fine; it’s our leadership that’s lacking.

We have a crisis of leadership 

In the United States, an estimated 88% of the workforce, 130 million people, go home every day feeling that they work for an organisation that doesn’t listen to or care about them. That is seven out of eight people! These are our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and sons and daughters. We live in a world where the phrase “Thank God it’s Friday” has become universally accepted. We’re destroying people and killing our culture because we send people home after treating them as objects and functions instead of caring about them as human beings.

Everybody matters

What would happen when ordinary people throw away long-accepted management practices and start operating from their deepest sense of right, with a sense of profound responsibility for the lives entrusted to them? That is what “Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family” is about.

Human leadership

A book about the power and impact of “truly human” leadership. About bringing our deepest sense of right, authentic caring, and high ideals to business. About achieving success beyond success, measured in the flourishing of human lives. It is about living with an abundance mindset: an abundance of patience, love, hope, and opportunity.

Our system is broken

There is a fatal flaw at the heart of the capitalist enterprises. Employees are treated as functions or human resources, as interchangeable as the parts they laboured to produce. Those days are well gone. We have robots for that now. We still measure success the wrong way. We measure it by the financial performance and growth of a company. Yet, we’ve got people whose lives are being destroyed every day by how many companies operate. We should apply Buddhist economics. We need to understand its impact on all the people whose lives we touch with every action we take. If every business did that, the world would be a much better place than it is today.

Duty of care

Your responsibility as a CEO transcends business performance. It begins with a deep commitment to the lives of those in our care—the very people whose lives you touch. Putting people first, always. Where the key pillars establish a shared long-term vision, fostering a people-centric culture, developing leaders from within, and sending people home fulfilled.


Realise that everyone wants to contribute. Trust them. Leaders are everywhere. Find them. Some people are on a mission. Celebrate them. Others wish things were different. Listen to them. Everybody matters. Show them. We don’t just need a new guide to leading in times of change or adversity. We need a complete rethink, a revolution.

A methodology

At Barry-Wehmiller, the primary purpose is crystal clear: they are in business so that all our team members can have meaningful and fulfilling lives. In other words, Barry-Wehmiller is in business to improve lives. They developed a method (based on their now experience of turning their company around) to fund companies that are dying and build something vibrant, profitable, and enduring out of it. Use unconventional thinking to identify the value that conventional thinking cannot recognise or harvest. In two words: people first. Each and every one of us is somebody’s precious child. What does it mean to be better stewards of these lives?

They are not running a company to maximise our profits for this quarter, this year, or even this decade. They strive to build an institution that will endure and create value for all stakeholders.

The questions

Asking the basic questions that make a lot of sense:

  • Why would you behave differently at work than at home?
  • Why can’t work be fun?
  • Why do we have scoreboards for sports teams but not for business? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody in every job knew at all times what the score was, how they were doing, and how their team was doing? Make it a game. 


So they did. This simple idea of a game created fun, a sense of purpose and camaraderie. Winning gave people psychological satisfaction as well as recognition and rewards. This experience showed that classic “management” practices were suppressing the creative gifts of our people. With gaming as a trigger and modest coaching, the team began a transformation from being cynical to enthusiastic. When people know their goal, they are inspired to express their gifts and discover capabilities they didn’t even know they had. The lesson was that fun aligns to value creation for the individual, the team, the customer, and the company.


They measure success by the way they touch the lives of people. They measure success by the way they touch the lives of people. All the people: team members, customers, vendors, bankers. Everyone.

Guiding principles

They developed guiding principles and wove the guiding principles into the fabric of the organisation. They travelled among the business units, sitting down with small groups of team members to discuss the vision and the meaning of the principles. They focussed on trust as the main issue. 


We were learning how to inspire people to solve problems rather than trying to manage them out of problems. We were starting to evolve toward becoming an organisation where people truly matter more than anything else. All leaders recognise the profound impact they have on the lives of those they have the privilege to lead.


The focus of financial buyers is typically solely on the financial return. They use financial engineering and an intense focus on wringing out costs to provide a quick profit boost that gives them their return in the shortest time frame. The Barry-Wehmiller business platform uses a purposeful, values-driven approach focused on building value rather than extracting value. Starting by sharing our Guiding Principles of Leadership and letting people know that they believe in them and that they will build a better future together. By embracing the Guiding Principles of Leadership. They take a holistic approach focusing on creating a better future for all the stakeholders in the opportunity. That completely changes the integration dynamic of an acquisition.


You don’t need to find “perfect” people. First of all, they don’t exist! But the fact is that every person is special; most of us are just unable to see them that way. Collins writes of the importance of “getting the right people on the bus.” We think it is far more critical to have a safe bus and ensure that the person driving the bus—the leader—knows how to take the people to a better place.

Everybody up

The sustainable human solution is not to remove from the “bottom” and add to the “top” (which are highly subjective judgments anyway); it is to bring everybody up. At a societal level, that is the only workable answer. The thing that makes us love our jobs is not the work that we’re doing. It’s the way we feel when we go there. I can guarantee you better business results from truly caring about everyone you work with.

Leadership is stewardship

You need to engage our heads and our hearts in an approach to leadership that validates the worth of every individual, an approach in which everybody matters. They use the word “stewardship” to describe our approach to leadership. They aspire to heal this brokenness and restore people to their full and joyful humanity. Stewardship implies accountability that goes beyond simple business ethics; it means acting from our deepest sense of right. Stewardship also implies trust and freedom of choice. Truly human leadership means sending people home safe, healthy, and fulfilled. People give us the gift of their time for forty hours a week, and the way we treat them, lead them and inspire them (or not) profoundly affects their life.

Leadership is recognition and celebration

In today’s Barry-Wehmiller, recognition and celebration are pervasive. If more than 50% of your comments aren’t positive, you create an oppressive environment for your child. Recognition and celebration are two of the most powerful leadership tools: Look for the goodness and hold it up and say, “Thank you for sharing your goodness.” Celebrate it publicly. Ring their mum and spouse.

Leadership is emotional contagion

Emotional contagion is the unconscious transmission of actions or emotions from one individual to another. People are walking mood inductors. Emotional contagion in the workplace is a huge issue. There is overwhelming evidence that experiencing and expressing positive emotions and moods tends to enhance performance at the individual level. There are ways to control contagious behaviour. If you are aware of contagious behaviour, you can start to control it.

They heave leadership checklist

In 2001, Peter Pronovost, an intensive-care specialist physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, came up with a simple, five-item checklist to remind physicians to take basic safety measures. They were inspired to create a leadership checklist:

  • I practice stewardship of the Guiding Principles of Leadership
  • I advocate safety and wellness
  • I reflect to lead 
  • I inspire passion, optimism, and purpose.
  • My personal communication cultivates fulfilling relationships.
  • I foster a team community
  • I exercise responsible freedom, empowering each of us to achieve our potential.
  • I proactively engage in the personal growth of individuals on my team.
  • I facilitate meaningful group interactions.
  • I set, coach to, and measure goals that define winning.
  • I recognise and celebrate the greatness in others. 
  • I commit to daily continuous improvement.

Leadership is fire-lighting

The conventional wisdom is that the best leaders are firefighters, heroes who move mountains to accomplish the impossible. They believe it is about lighting fires. In B-W, they celebrate those who light fires in others by caring, listening, recognising, and inspiring. Daniel Pink pointed out in “Drive” that intrinsic motivation trumps extrinsic motivation for work that requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Leadership is about restoring the primacy of people over all else.

The tips

  • Always measure success by the way you touch the lives of people.
  • Create a business family.
  • Treat each employee the way you would like your kids to be treated where they work.
  • Build a home, not a just a business.
  • Be a coach: As a parent or a leader, follow the proven role models for exceptional coaching.
  • Build each other to greatness.
  • Be patient with those who don’t “get it”.
  • Let them grow, and then let them go.
  • Be authentically human.
  • Break bread together, celebrate together, talk it over together, and mourn together. 
  • Inspire.
  • Lead with your heart.
  • Next time somebody says, ‘What are your goals?’ stop saying, ‘To increase top-line revenues by a million dollars or ten million dollars or whatever you want to do next year. Start saying, ‘We’re building a company that will last one hundred years.’
  • The numbers will never come to your aid. Ever. People will. If you feel that everyone is disposable, guess what? They think the same about you. It’s reciprocal.
  • It takes genuine, heartfelt, soul-level commitment from the CEO (as well as from the board of directors in the case of a public company), who must consciously choose to lead differently for the right reasons.
  • Business growth and people growth aren’t separate ideas.
  • Communicate a strong message of hope, patience, and caring.
  • Envision the ideal future.
  • The 10 Commandments of Truly Human Leadership.
  • Begin every day with a focus on the lives you touch. 
  • Know that leadership is the stewardship of the lives entrusted to you. 
  • Embrace leadership practices that send people home safe, healthy, and fulfilled each day. 
  • Align all actions to an inspirational vision of a better future. 
  • Trust is the foundation of all relationships; act accordingly. 
  • Look for the goodness in people and recognise and celebrate it daily. 
  • Ask no more or less of anyone than you would of your own child. 
  • Lead with a clear sense of grounded optimism. 
  • Recognise and flex to the uniqueness of everyone.
  • As the leader, it is your responsibility to express grounded optimism and repeat it as often as you can:
  • Start to build teamwork and a sense of oneness. 
  • Break down silos and end dysfunctional practices that pit one part of the business against another.
  • Institute daily “touch meetings” for people to start building relationships and helping everyone start the day on the same page.
  • Catch people doing things right. 
  • Celebrate all progress, even the smallest of steps.
  • Encourage people to think about patience in terms of years rather than months.
  • Bring humanity and dignity back to the workplace by inviting people to own the process.

They apply Lean

Their first imperative was to find the best ways to have the Guiding Principles of Leadership impact every precious life in our company. They decided that the best way to do that would be to adapt Toyota’s well-known Lean methodology. Appropriately used, Lean offers a unique opportunity to free people to truly contribute their gifts and talents. To see and participate in different parts of the process, rise above being robots, contribute in new ways, and always think about how to make things better.

Lean with compassion 

Lean is a disciplined process of continuous improvement traditionally focused on minimising waste and maximising customer value. Lean has become all about numbers. Their version of Lean is about people. It is a process of listening to team members and validating their knowledge and ability to contribute. To empower people to take charge of their own work and, by extension, their own lives. They are probably the only company in the world that began the continuous-improvement journey specifically to bring our people-centred culture to our team members. Their Lean is not really about waste elimination. It’s about frustration elimination, removing obstacles that stand in the way of people being their best.


The foundation of Lean is the 5S tool from the Toyota Production System. It is based on five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke, which can be roughly translated as “sort,” “straighten,” “shine,” “standardise,” and “sustain.” At Barry-Wehmiller, it has expanded 5S to 7S, adding “safety” and “satisfaction” to better align with our people-centered vision. 


We changed the name from Lean to L3 (Living Legacy of Leadership). The L3 vision uniquely blends the personal touch, making the individual important and Lean. The process always includes asking, “How does this make you feel?”. The responses are priceless, genuine reflections of the impact our L3 journey has on people’s lives.

They cultivate responsible freedom

Responsible freedom encapsulates two ideas: freedom, the opportunity to exercise personal choice, to have ownership of the work you do and the decisions you make. And responsibility, ensuring that personal choice is exercised with care and concern for other people and the organisation’s requirements. That is where “freedom to” comes in. People should have the freedom to innovate, experiment, and fail. But in the absence of shared values and a moral compass, “freedom to” can degenerate into self-serving anarchy. We are all accountable to each other. It’s not only the executive leadership’s responsibility or that of the person with the highest title in the organisation.

By creating an environment of responsible freedom, we show real respect for our organisations’ true craftsmen and craftswomen, often for the first time. There can be just as much artistry and craftsmanship in how to tie together financial information and present and share it with other people in inspiring and innovative ways. The common denominator is responsible freedom.

Responsible freedom takes trust

How do we get them to let go of the reins and offer some of their power, information, and responsibility to others? They need to connect with the organisation’s vision and develop deep trust with each other and with people throughout the organisation. Leaders at Barry-Wehmiller have to create an environment of trust as a prerequisite to creating the opportunity for responsible freedom for their team members. Lack of trust imposes a burden of higher monitoring and legal costs. It makes companies sluggish, unresponsive, and uncaring, and it sows the seeds for the eventual destruction of the organisation.


Too many companies say one thing and do another, breeding deep cynicism among employees over time. To get trust, you have to give it freely. High-trust businesses are built on respect and caring, not fear and anxiety. As a result, the company’s reputation is enhanced, giving it a halo that allows it to attract ever-better employees, customers, suppliers, and investors—starting a virtuous cycle that builds over time to create a truly great company that generates tremendous value and well-being for society as a whole.

They focus on communication

A clear vision communicates the organisation’s purpose and values to everyone. It becomes a touchstone for leaders; Every single person in the organisation should be aware of the vision and be inspired by it. They do communication skills training across the organisation. The learning journey is about understanding that though people think they’re communicating, they’ve actually never been taught the mechanics of how to communicate or the effect that their communication has on others. It begins by diving deep into the communication cycle. What happens when the words leave my mouth and reach the person listening to the message? Communication Skills Training has had a significant impact on our culture. It has created a shared vocabulary for recognising and avoiding communication pitfalls.

They teach storytelling

They also teach storytelling: How do you take an experience in your life and craft a compelling story out of it? As the embodiment of the leadership behaviours we want to teach, you have to disclose your own personal journey. That often brings with it a great deal of emotion.


We want to make it safe for people to care and express caring. We bring emotion into business in a constructive way. A standard question in meetings is how they feel about things in the business—developing the intuition muscle.

They focus on vision

A vision is like a lighthouse that stands on a rocky shore as a beacon to help guide us safely to where we want to go. Visioning is about asking the big questions: Where are we going? Why are we going there? How will each of our stakeholders be in a better place when we get there? A good vision sets goals, inspires all team members, and allows leaders to make decisions that move us toward where we are going.

Business visioning and cultural visioning

At Barry-Wehmiller, they do two kinds of visioning: business visioning and cultural visioning.

  • Business visioning is a way to dream about what our business future could be and create a road map that allows us to get there. 
  • Cultural visioning is about our “why.” It is about values and behaviours: How should we treat each other so we can all go home truly fulfilled? Cultural visioning at Barry-Wehmiller is a disciplined process applied internally in areas such as safety, continuous improvement, and well-being.

For and by the people

Visioning is the most powerful tool in leadership, essential to being a good steward of the business and its culture. They have never once begun a session nor ended one by asking, ‘How are we going to make more money? They also do not compromise on culture. Vision should be centred on people. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, Barry-Wehmiller is a business of the people, for the people, and by the people.


As a result, they make the implicit explicit, forcing the organisation to articulate its assumptions, beliefs, values, taboos, fears, dreams, and aspirations. Visioning helps paint a vivid picture of the organisation they want to be without bringing together individuals from across the organisation to focus on the long-term future.

Shared ownership

The process is valuable because it enhances communication and understanding within the organisation and opens people’s eyes to possibilities they may not have considered before. It creates a sense of shared ownership in the future, inspiring new initiatives. As a result, there is an aliveness and vibrancy to all their vision statements.

The focus on purpose 

The purpose of every great business is usually something more profound and more transcendent, aligned with having a positive impact on the world and on the lives of people. The conscious Capitalism movement cites higher purpose as one of the four key pillars.


Thoughtful participation from across the organisation is crucial. People have to be well informed about the current state of the business. For this and other reasons, we operate with an unusual degree of transparency, providing far more information to people than is available in most companies.

A New Way to Lead

  • An important take-away for participants learning our approach to leadership is that they can be—indeed, must be—the same person at work that they are at home.
  • Leadership fundamentals have more to do with marriage, parenting, and relationships with family members than work.
  • We have found three master keys to our leadership culture—deep listening, authentic vulnerability, and courageous patience.

Leadership is love

Their approach is extraordinarily successful because they have tapped into something far more fundamental to our true nature, the opposite of fear: love. Love is strong and the most powerful force in the universe. Love is a competitive advantage. Love is abundantly available and allows for the creation of great value. What is missing from the world of work is genuine caring for people. We’re taught to turn it off before we walk into the office; instead, we’re asked to put on our emotional armour. A recent research report found that “people who worked in a culture where they felt free to express affection, tenderness, caring, and compassion for one another were more satisfied with their jobs, committed to the organisation, and accountable for their performance.”

I would want to work for this company. Would you?

sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

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