From the Globe to the Farm: Applying Leadership Lessons to
Improve Our Business
Recently I attended the Global Leadership Summit in Chicago. The
caliber of the speakers and the value of their content was worthy
of the 250,000 worldwide attendees. One of many highlights for me
was the words and wisdom delivered by Horst Schulze, Chairman and
CEO, Capella Hotel Group and Founding President and Former COO, the
A favorite "keepers" from his session was that when a new hotel
opens, Mr. Schulze (the top guy) travels to each location to lead
the initial orientation of all employees. He was very clear, "I
don't let just somebody train them, I train them. I make sure they
understand they were not hired to fulfill a function (job), but
selected to participate in a specific higher purpose, creating a
culture of excellence." To demonstrate the importance of every
employee, he shared, "if the person washing the dishes doesn't show
up for work...it's a disaster! If someone doesn't come to work to
make the beds...it's a disaster. If the phone is not answered
because someone is late for work...it's a disaster. If I don't show
up...no big deal. You are the important one!"
In creating the spirit of excellence, four things became very
1) There is a clear, expressed purpose. Team members know the
personal benefits when they work together, striving to exceed the
2) There is a leader who believes in the importance of each
person on the team, with no one claiming superiority over another.
3) Self-responsibility with trust was demonstrated with every
team member having the authority to correct any mistake up to
$2,000 without anyone else's approval. Their mission in action is,
if we make a mistake, own it and start by saying, "Please forgive
me." Then correct the problem.
4) A sense of caring and importance builds an internally
motived drive to meet the premier standard. The sense of belonging
creates a "helping environment." During the orientation of
employees, Mr. Schulze shares, "if you do not do strive to be
excellent, then I must make your life miserable ….unless you ask
So, what would happen in our family businesses if our farm or
ranch leader used Mr. Schulze's model?
1 ) The business would have a defined mission with a clear focus
written in words all understand. All are eager to model it
consistently to their families, those within the team, those who
support your business, and those who buy your products. All
understand that team and personal contributions result in
2) The leader would identify the standard of behavior and
expected results. Then select, not hire, the best person to be part
of the team to make it a reality. Being part of a family business
is conditional, it is not a birthright.
3) The leader would trust and give authority to a team member to
fix mistakes because the leader knows it was not intentional, but
needs immediate correction.
4) The leader was visible and helpful, not to "oversee" but to
cheer on, provide resources, correct and praise. And, the leader
honored team members with more than a paycheck. The leader gave
recognition, time, listening and implementation of others' creative
One of the joys of my job is knowing many in agriculture's
family businesses who take new learning from other industries and
seek out the nuggets they can apply to their specific needs.
Learning from Horst Schulze requires looking into a mirror. Where
are we at with current leadership? What needs improvement? How do
we improve? Let's get started!
Jolene Brown, CSP
Jolene Brown is a farmer, professional speaker, author and
champion for the family owned business. She's from West Branch,
Iowa, USA, and travels worldwide sharing leading-edge best
practices that have the power to increase productivity,
profitability and peace of mind. Her passion combined with her
fun-filled spirit and valuable information brings humor, hope and
helpful ideas to the people of agriculture. For more information
and to check out her speaking availability, contact her at Jolene@JoleneBrown.com, www.JoleneBrown.com
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