At The Container Store we talk (and write!) a lot about wake, so we were particularly excited to understand more about our friend Bob Chapman’s view on wake, that he calls The Ripple Effect. Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, a $2+ billion capital equipment and engineering consulting firm with more than 11,000 team members worldwide. He shares thoughts, stories and insights on leadership and business on his blog, trulyhumanleadership.com. His Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People like Family, published by Penguin Random House, is available at The Container Store!
The closing line of our Guiding Principles of Leadership, Barry-Wehmiller’s cultural vision statement, reads: We are committed to our employees’ personal growth.
There’s a reason we ended with that aspirational statement. We wanted to ensure that everyone throughout the organization kept in focus one of our most important commitments: bringing forth the gifts and talents of those who contribute to our shared vision. When we help our team members flourish, amazing things can happen.
And what we’ve discovered along the way is that the positive impact of this kind of people-centric leadership goes far beyond our team members. Kip Tindell and The Container Store call it our wake. We call it the “Ripple Effect.”
Story after story from team members reveal that the personal growth they experience through meaningful work and the training they receive through our internal Barry-Wehmiller University improves their marriages, enhances their parenting, enriches their friendships, makes them better neighbors, causes them to want to volunteer in their communities more often, and so on. In other words, when our team members feel fulfilled by their time with us, they go home and leave a positive impact on the lives of those in their own corner of the universe.
Jenny Copanos is a perfect example.
Jenny is the assistant controller for our BW Container Systems division in Romeoville, IL. BW Container Systems builds machines that are used in the packaging assembly lines of a wide variety of companies who produce beer and beverages, wine and spirits, personal care products, pharmaceuticals and household products.
Jenny joined the Barry-Wehmiller organization as a temporary employee ten years ago when she was 25 and just beginning her career. She always knew she wanted to be an accountant but, beyond that, wasn’t sure where she fit in. “Growing up, I never found my niche,” she shared. “I wasn’t good at sports, didn’t join clubs. I was a good student but that was it. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself.”
Early on, Jenny had many mentors at BWCS, who encouraged her to try things she didn’t think she could handle. She’s grown from a young, somewhat shy and unassuming temporary employee into a confident, admired and forward-thinking leader throughout the BW Container Systems organization.
Today, Jenny leads a team of six, teaches Communications Skills Training to dozens of team members each year, and gives presentations to help associates in other departments understand how their role contributes to the organization’s overall financial success.
“If someone had told me a few years ago that I’d confidently stand up in front of a roomful of people and make complex financial information seem relevant and interesting to the guys in the shop or engineering or shipping, I would have never believed it,” said Jenny. “Five years ago, I couldn’t have done it. Now I love the opportunity to share what I’ve learned to help others grow.”
But the impact of Jenny’s leadership doesn’t stop there. Jenny says her marriage is richer as a result of her job. “I have been able to let down some of the barriers and open up to my husband Nick in ways that I couldn’t early on in our marriage.”
Jenny and Nick have three-year-old twins, Jackson and Addison. “I have learned how to be a better communicator, a better listener, and that will only help me as a parent,” she reflected. “I don’t come home from work stressed or angry; I truly feel a sense of fulfillment.”
From her mentors, to Jenny herself, to her team and the many co-workers she teaches throughout BW Container Systems, to her family – who will be next in that chain? The ripple effect of good leadership is boundless.
Who is in your chain? Who will be your next ripple?