Sharing Our Message: Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute

In the last decade, as we began to actively talk about our message of Truly Human Leadership, we often were met with the question: “How can I do this in my own company?”

It’s one thing to be inspirational and talk about the impact of organizational leadership on the daily lives of people, but it’s another to take the steps necessary to change an institutionalized culture within a company. Many companies have no idea where to begin. We at Barry-Wehmiller have applied what we have learned in more than 100 acquisitions to build a $3 billion company. And we knew we should share that knowledge with others.

In 2015, we launched the BW Leadership Institute to consult with organizations who were interested in aligning their business with a focus on culture and people. A leadership consulting firm that partners with other companies to create strategic visions, engage employees, improve corporate culture and develop outstanding leaders through leadership training, assessments and workshops.

This week marks a significant moment in the growing firm’s history, as well as a significant moment in my journey as a leader. They are announcing the firm’s new name: Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute.

When the partners of Chapman & Co. recently surprised me with the gift of aligning the name of their firm with my family name, I was profoundly touched. That the Chapman name will now be associated with creating caring work cultures – where people in all kinds of industries around the world will finally have opportunities for meaningful and fulfilling work – is a gift I will always treasure.

To date, more than 40,000 leaders in more than 600 organizations have felt the impact of Chapman & Co. – from start-ups to some of the most influential companies in the world, including American Airlines, South Africa’s Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, Grand Rapids, Michigan-based grocery chain Meijer, the San Francisco 49ers and the 2019 Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues.

And the results have been fantastic! Meijer has seen a 25 percent decrease in total store turnover since 2017. Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages has reduced lost time due to injuries onsite. The San Francisco 49ers organization has reduced turnover in key positions and experienced a more collaborative senior leadership team.

The work that Chapman & Co. is doing is a testament to the more than 12,000 team members of Barry-Wehmiller who contribute every day to our vision of building a better world. Who put their trust in their leaders and each other and are patient with the mistakes we may make along the way, as we continually strive to be a better and more caring organization. Our journey shows the world that this way of working together is possible.

As I wrote in a blog post several years ago, one night at dinner a young man in our organization asked me, “Bob, what’s your greatest fear?”  I thought about it for a moment and responded, “My greatest fear is that we will have worked hard to build something of significance here at Barry-Wehmiller and that it will fade away. Somehow it will not be sustained beyond my time.”

I have a lot of work still to do, but I am confident through Chapman & Co., our book Everybody Matters, and the growing number of organizations and people on the journey with us, that our message of Truly Human Leadership will live on for a long time.

Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $3+ billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting firm, Barry-Wehmiller’s 12,000 team members are united around a common belief: we can use the power of business to build a better world. Chapman explores that idea in his Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family, available from Penguin Random House.

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