I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership. Some companies preach leadership, train leadership, and live leadership.  Most don’t.  One major company has built its success around a list of 13 principles.  I’ll leave the company’s name out of this and refer to it simply as Big Guy so that we can focus on a few of the concepts.

I have read the list several times. There are a few principles that appear everywhere such as a commitment to the customer and the importance of hiring and developing the best possible candidates.  Though these platitudes are commonly voiced by lesser companies, the wording is uniquely Big Guy’s.  Some of the other concepts grabbed my attention.

Big Guy stresses ownership. Each employee is advised that he/she acts on behalf of the entire company, not just a particular team.  “That’s not my job” is never an acceptable response.

Big Guy wants the employees to think big, takes risks, and to remember that many decisions and actions are reversible. How many businesses preach fear?  Very few companies empower their employees to focus on action.

Big Guy expects all of its employees to be leaders and to challenge, respectfully, when they disagree. The employees are supposed to have convictions and to stay connected to the details.

I was aware of Big Guy and some of its business practices. Learning more about this organization gives me confidence in the future of American business.

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The young man sighed and shook his head and then he, just as his fellow furnace repairmen had annually since I purchased my condo five years ago, said “Do you know this furnace is over 30 years old?  It should be replaced”.  I asked why since the furnace still worked great.  He must have thought that 35, possibly his age, was a major turning point.  Or, perhaps he, like last year’s guy or the ones before, are just trained to sell that way.  Who knows?  But after I paid him for the annual check-up I realized that I’ll never really know when the furnace is ready to die until it does.  These guys don’t have any credibility.  For all I know, it could be time.  I’d check with another company, but I’d have no guarantee that they would be any better.

I can only hope that Big Guy eventually decides to sell and service furnaces.