By: Gayle Dendinger Issue: Collaborative Leadership Section: Inspirations
I’ve always felt strongly that the true measure of a leader comes not when they feel coerced or deprived of opportunities, but when they succeed because they wanted to, and not because they had to. People think of success as an achievement, something that comes about through positive action, but success can also be born out of loss, failure and even times of struggle.
With that said, it’s been a tough year. Actually, it’s been a tough two years. And while economists and forecasters alike say that the recession is over, it seems to hauntingly linger over a vast majority of the country. Capitalism, despite being battered and beaten, has once again persevered through the will and determination of entrepreneurs and leaders across the country who continue to thrive, despite the indelible economic conditions.
Author Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, describes companies who overcome the stigma of average by instituting simple concepts and structures that lead to exceptional performance. Therefore, it seemed only appropriate to feature the stories of businesses and leaders who forged new paths of success and did so with the help and collaboration of their teams and organizations.
Recently, I was informed about the collective steadfast of a company called Nucor Corporation, a North Carolina-based steel manufacturer. Over the past year, while the steel industry lost over two million jobs, Nucor retained 93 percent of its 20,400 person staff; not one job was lost to production layoffs because of the company’s “pay-for-performance” model. Because employees are paid out on performance, when times are good, the organization reaps in the rewards together and when times are bad, there are thousands of people who can empathize with the loss. So, while millions of people were out of a job, each person at Nucor was assured they would receive their benefits and a paycheck.
Even under the economic pressure and loss of production, Nucor managed to focus on other aspects of its company that could afford further improvements. Led by Dan DiMicco, Chairman, President and CEO, Nucor shifted its focus to improve the company’s health, safety and environmental footprint across the country. I was impressed that together, in spite of their loss, each and every employee responded by finding a new valuable way to affect the company. Nucor not only serves as an example of the “great companies” Collins describes, but as the epitome of connection and collaboration through market enterprise. As a business owner, I have seen first-hand how the trials and tribulations of the economy can unnerve a person to their core. Giving up may seem easy, but pushing through is much more gratifying. I find comfort in knowing that the spirit and resolve of great American capitalists seek to shine and thrive each day, and thrive regardless of what is thrown their way.
I hope you enjoy reading about some of the businesses and leaders that, despite economic pressure, have shown resilience, character and more importantly collaborated to lead their teams through the storm and find themselves better for it on the other side.