CHICAGO — Because employee expectations and the nature of business are constantly evolving, owners of labor-intensive companies such as laundry businesses need to recognize these changes and adapt to the times. Otherwise, they will constantly struggle to fill their labor needs and the atmosphere of their company will suffer.
This was Dirk Beveridge’s message during his webinar, “Reimagining Leadership in a Post-Pandemic World,” hosted by the University of Innovative Distribution (UID). The webinar was made available to Textile Care Allied Trades Association (TCATA) members through partnership with UID.
Beveridge founded the strategy firm UnleashWD, and has been a consultant to a wide range of companies to strengthen their sales and leadership strategies.
During the webinar, he shared some of the findings he’s gathered from surveys and from visiting dozens of different companies each of the last two summers, speaking with hundreds of workers and leaders in the process. These findings, Beveridge believes, can be applied to almost any industry because the forces at play are universal.
Part 1 of this article began to address what he calls the Great Redefinition, made up of external forces, internal forces and people forces, all colliding in an unprecedented way. He explained each of these forces in Part 2, and started to get into the true meaning of leadership. Let's conclude:
LEADERSHIP’S INFLECTION POINT
Based on his research, interviews and personal experience, Beveridge offers the four evolutions of leadership:
Controlling — “Controlling leadership was the way people like me were taught to lead years ago,” he says. “You lead through legislation, through policing and through fear.” Beveridge believes that this is the most outdated, least effective way to lead today’s employees — a prime example of yesterday’s playbook.
Managing — “Thank goodness ‘controlling’ evolved to ‘managing,’” Beveridge says. “This is where I have my to-do list as a manager. I’ve got processes in place, and we’ve got things working. … So, let’s just manage the status quo. Let’s get the day-to-day work done. Let’s administer what needs to be administrated, and let’s stick to what we know is working.”
Leading — “‘Managing’ then evolved into ‘leading,’” Beveridge says. “For the last two decades or so, we’ve been talking about leadership — really needing to have a vision for the organization and where we’re going to go. The world is changing around us, so just administering the day-to-day isn’t good enough. We’ve got to think about the change that’s going to be required, and the innovation that’s going to be required. We need a new vision for our department, and for my function in my company. Then, we need to develop strategies and create the cultures that are required.”
Noble Calling — The evolution from “leading” to the next level is something Beveridge says he’s found most often in independent, family-owned businesses and employee-owned companies.
“I’ve identified this fourth pillar as the ‘noble calling,’” he says. “This is where, as leaders, we need to ensure a deeper meaning and a deeper purpose. Our teammates, the people who are working with us, want to know that they’re making a difference, that they’re contributing to the greater good. What’s the purpose behind what we’re doing here? What’s the impact? People don’t want to just be a cog in a wheel. They want to make an impact, that their contributions add to something greater.”
If properly understood and utilized, this facet of desire can improve employees’ lives and a company’s future, Beveridge believes: “As leaders, you’ve got a platform to unleash what I call the human spirit of these individuals to help them fulfill their potential. It’s exciting!”
THE EVOLUTION OF LEADERSHIP
“Look at that spectrum of leadership,” Beveridge says. “Controlling, when leaders put the company first to produce, produce, produce. If I wear you out, if I burn you out, I can just go get somebody else. You’re a number. I’ll just put another cog in the wheel. That’s how businesses did it in the past. That’s evolved to where people come first.”
Beveridge recounted a meeting in the field with an employee who told him that coming to work at her place of employment was “the greatest decision in my life.”
That statement made an impression on Beveridge, and when he asked her about it, he found it was based on her employment history.
“She told me the story about her previous employer,” he says. “The way they treated her with a lack of dignity, and a lack of respect, leading through fear (and) through intimidation, and using her as a vehicle. She finally got the courage to leave there, she found (her current employer), where the team members are treated with dignity, respect and empathy.”
Leaders who want to not only increase their company’s production and profits, but also want to have employees who remain loyal and stay longer, need to understand this essential change from yesterday’s worker to today’s team member.
This, Beveridge says, requires leaders to take a good look at their company and what they are trying to achieve.
“Vision is defined as a future reality that you really believe is possible with committed effort,” he says. “It falls to us, as leaders, to think hard about that vision.”
Miss an earlier part of this story? You can read it here: Part 1 — Part 2
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected] .