The new statement recognizes that … “While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders…” And those stakeholders include customers, employees, suppliers, the communities in which we work — “generating long term value for shareholders.”
The new perspective seems to recognize the intimate link between “long term value” creation and the well-being of all of those involved in making the business possible. That’s a good turn from the intense focus on short term profits for shareholders. But is it really new or ‘leadership in action’?
I think we have fantastic examples of leadership in contribution and longevity all around us.
Since April this year, on reading the obituary of our good friend, Gene Bendix, who passed at age 91, I’ve been writing this article to make a point about the value of contribution to others at all stages of our lives. Gene’s story includes:
“Gene’s active life included baseball, bowling, golf and traveling. But it was his on going desire to improve life for others in his Cedarburg community that prompted him to volunteer his services … driving seniors to their appointments, (Senior Van) for over 20 years, delivering Meals on Wheels, bringing Holy Communion to those is LaSata Nursing Home and serving in various functions at his Cedarburg parish. … in 2016 joining the Handi-Capables Club … “
I don’t have the habit of reading the obits, but I do appreciate those of you who alert me to members who have passed. I read and publish their obits where available on the Remember section of the Front Page. There are more stories like Gene’s. I’ve learned from their examples and appreciate each story.
In the July 24, 2019 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jim Stingl’s story “Now past 100, 3 former Shorewood classmates are reunited in senior living.“ These ladies have a great story, told well by Stingl. They each offered their thoughts about turning 100:
“Just eat well and behave well and have fun with the opportunities to have a good life. I’m just grateful for all the blessings I’ve had.” Betty (Pokorney) Ryan
“One thing is to try to help other people. It helps them and it makes you feel that you’re doing something useful. Try to laugh a lot and like people.” Flo (Valencourt) Lindsay
“Reach out to other people. It makes you more upbeat and alert. Forget about yourself and your woes. There’s always somebody worse off than you are.” Margaret (Anders) Harrigan
Here’s a personal example — I’m still learning from my dad, Roman Anders who passed in 2008 at age 91. After his first career, dad, in his mid 60’s, connected with Carl Johnson, 4 years his senior. Carl was a long time entrepreneur and dad was skilled in electronics, at the lath, and just about anything that required using his hands and his problem solving skills. They put together a company in the West Bend area that made hydraulic cylinders. Dad even went back school to pick up drafting skills. At the time I wondered why they chose to this for their ‘retirement years.’ My conclusion was that this talented pair enjoyed using their skills and sharing them with their co-workers. They did it because they could! The company did well and dad was able to work through age 87, enjoying every minute of it.
Later, at dad’s funeral, Carl, then age 96 — his daughter drive him — told me he had a special purpose for being there. He wanted to make sure that dad’s family understood how many people he had helped, solving problems for people from around the world. I mentioned how amazed I was that their factory could turn a 7,000 pound cylinder. Carl smiled, that cylinder was for a project in Africa, pressing oil from seeds.
Lesson — they created their company to help other people!
How about that for “leadership in action”?
We are indeed all better together!
We just need to keep learning from the good people who are all around us — and following their example as best we can.