Do you have the GUTS to lead your company?

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:33 pm

Author says shrinking workforce will steer the best workers to employers of choice

Companies That Blow The Doors Off Business-As-Usual
Quad/Graphics Inc.
Racine Federated Inc.
Bartolotta Restaurant Group
Seek Careers/Staffing Inc.
Berbee Information Networks Corp.
Stone Creek Coffee
Plus: Michael Cudahy’s ‘Golden Rules’

Call it fate. Call it a gift from the cosmos. Call it destiny. Or call it a mere lucky coincidence. Whichever it is, sometimes in business, the pieces of a project just come together.
Such is the case with the 2005 Small Business Times Ventures project.
Each year, SBT produces a Ventures special report about local companies and their leaders who are enacting bold strategies to grow their businesses. Each year, we select a nationally renowned business how-to book as the theme of the local report.
This year, SBT selected "Guts! Companies That Blow The Doors Off Business-As-Usual," written by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg and published by Doubleday, a division of Random House Inc.
The Freibergs, who are San Diego-based business consultants, speakers and authors, first struck gold with "Nuts! Southwestern Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success," a popular business book that received national critical acclaim.
Their second venture, "Guts!" expands upon the first book’s
theme that bold, innovative leadership is the key for long-term corporate success.
And so it is.
The "Guts!" concept also is the perfect
theme for SBT’s Ventures special report.
Not so coincidentally, one of the companies featured in "Guts!" is Sussex-based Quad/Graphics Inc.
Former Quad chief executive officer Harry Quadracci, who passed away in 2002, was cited in "Guts!" as an innovative corporate leader who dared to lead with a "management by walking away" style that empowered his employees.
Harry’s brother, Tom Quadracci, now takes the helm of Quad/Graphics. In an exclusive interview for this week’s SBT (see page 14), Tom shares his thoughts about the company’s leadership philosophies.
The other local companies cited in this special report for gutsy leadership include Racine Federated Inc.; 800-CEO-READ; Bartolotta Restaurant Group; Seek Careers/Staffing Inc.; Berbee Information Networks Corp.; and Stone Creek Coffee.
SBT is grateful to Kevin and Jackie Freiberg for giving us permission to cite the content of their book and apply their principles to bold southeastern Wisconsin companies.
According to the Freibergs:
• Gutsy leaders blow the doors off business-as-usual.
• Gutsy leaders brand their cultures.
• Gutsy leaders create a sense of ownership among their employees.
• Gutsy leaders hire people who don’t suck energy out of their companies.
• Gutsy leaders lead with love.
• Gutsy leaders make business heroic.
• Gutsy leaders gotta have guts!

The icing on the cake for this year’s Ventures project came when Jackie Freiberg visited Milwaukee to give a speech just one day before this issue of SBT went to press. Jackie was gracious enough to grant an interview to SBT before her speech.
Jackie reviewed the list of companies cited in this year’s Ventures report and noted a common theme among them: They hire good people, they empower good people and they do whatever they can to keep and motivate those good people.
As the baby boom generation saunters into retirement, to be followed by a much smaller generation of workers, companies will be hard-pressed to find and retain loyal employees, Jackie said.
The companies that will survive over the next two decades will be businesses that not only respect their employees, but "love" their employees, Jackie said. If you don’t, those employees will go to work somewhere else that does, she said.
"You’ve got to become an employer of choice. Companies need loyal, faithful, committed people. If you take care of your people in your business, they will take care of your business," Jackie told SBT. "But what’s happened is we get so mired, or so caught up in either looking at the competition, being envious of what others have, worrying about controlling the future, worrying about shareholders – Wall Street, Geez … They kill businesses, because businesses focus so much on the bottom line that they neglect their people. It’s so short-term driven. All of the gutsy leaders that we’ve learned from, they take care of their people, because they know it’s the right thing for them to do for the company’s long-term success.
"Gutsy leaders surround themselves with good talent, and then they have the faith to get the heck out of their way. You’ve got to love your people. If people don’t feel loved, if they don’t feel cared for, if they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to check out," Jackie said. "You’ve got to have the guts to treat your people right, because the companies that have done it over the long haul, they’ve succeeded. They’re taking darn good care of their people."
As an added bonus to this year’s Venture project, Michael Cudahy agreed to allow SBT to share his "Ten Golden Rules" in this special report (see page 32). These are lessons Michael learned along the way as the former chairman and chief executive officer of Marquette Medical Systems Inc. and now the president of The Endeavors Group LLC.
Jackie reviewed Michael’s thoughts and said, "I love his 10 bullet points. I loved what he said about having a love affair with his employees. You talk to a Michael Cudahy, a Harry Quadracci or his brother, you’ll find these are people who are practicing this stuff, because they know in their guts it’s the right thing to do."

By Steve Jagler, of SBT
May 27, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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