Aug. 19 — To the Editor:
At the intersection of stubborn and stupid streets, we pedestrians get the displeasure of watching the Demoulas family about to crash head-on.
Having spent more than 25 years of my life in human resources management, I have never encountered a more bizarre business situation. For the past 10 years, we have watched numerous chief executive officers being taken away by police in handcuffs, or paid millions to just go away or, even worse, remain as the leaders of ineffective and failing organizations while employees suffered the consequences. Personally, I have worked for both the “walks the walk” and the “talks the talk” type leader. I will take the “walks the walk” type any day.
To have employees be willing to sacrifice their livelihoods to save a corporate leader will become part of Harvard Business School case studies for years to come. In fact, it may be the only one of its kind. My experience has shown that a truly great organization always has a strong leader that staff believes in. This “belief” is what differentiates employees who just show up versus the ones who commit to excellence.
This commitment is what I call the invisible profit and loss (P&L) statement line item. You can’t see, touch, taste or smell it, but it is at the core of a business succeeding … no, exceeding! On a simple scale, it’s an employee opening a case of peanut butter with broken jars and taking time to write up a breakage report rather than throw it in the Dumpster when no one is looking. It’s taking time to escort a lost customer to the exact location of the item they are seeking, rather than just pointing and sending them on their way. It’s seeing a store manager stocking shelves with staff or on the store intercom trying desperately to brighten up your day with a bit of humor (walks the walk type). It’s seeing employee name tags displaying longevity that exceed the age of many of its customers.
It’s what keeps me returning week after week after week after week.
Somebody is responsible for this culture. It doesn’t just happen. Is it Artie T.? Of course it is. Just look at the thousands of employees supporting him. I guarantee hundreds of CEOs across the country are asking themselves, or unfortunately their consultants (talks the talk type), how can I get my staff to believe in me that much?
You cannot be a leader without followers. Managers manage “things.” It is leaders who lead “people.” Poor managers and/or boards of directors do not understand this.
So here we are, pedestrians at the intersection waiting to cross. We see the Demoulas cars coming full speed and no one is looking up. We keep waving our hands and shouting in hope that one or both of the drivers will see or hear us in time to save themselves and the many innocent pedestrians standing at the intersection of “stubborn and stupid” streets.