Organizational Integrity: Prioritizing People-Development

by Ron

For the next few Monday posts, I want to provide some snapshots into what makes up organizational integrity.

To have a great organization, integrity must be widespread. It won’t do to be a saintly leader of highest integrity if the rest of the team consists of liars, backbiters, and thieves. Integrity must exist from top to bottom. There are some key qualities that need to be modeled by leadership in order for an organization to embrace integrity.

Last week we started with self-disclosure. This week we explore Prioritizing People-Development.

Prioritizing People-Development

In 1997 Dennis Brozak, the president of Design Basics, a company with revenues of $4 million, handed over day-to-day operations to Linda Reimer, a highly qualified fifty-three-year-old whom he had found three years earlier at, of all places, a copy machine. Brozak saw that Reimer had management potential, but the intensive systematic training he gave her was the key to her rapid advancement in the company.

Back in 1991, Reimer was a longtime preschool director who wanted a part-time summer job. She took a low-level job photocopying blue prints for Design Basics, a company based in Omaha, Neb., that sells blueprints for homes via catalog. She did that job so well that Brozak hired her full-time in1994.

Over the next two years, Brozak gave Reimer various assignments that tested the potential executive’s leadership capabilities. First, he made her a human resources director and asked her to switch the department’s focus from advocating employees’ rights to developing their professional growth. She succeeded. Brozak began challenging her more and more. “I wanted to find out a lot about her,” he says. “Can she manage and motivate people? Can she delegate accurately and appropriately? And she had to be able to fire people when necessary. She has a big heart,
but she passed that test, too.”

Then, to see if she understood the market and the industry,
Brozak put Reimer in charge of one product, a catalog. The catalog’s home designs sold well. Brozak then evaluated her financial acumen
by making her an operations director, and he watched how well she used the company’s money. Again, he says, she did well. So Brozak
gave her control over all the company’s publishing. Once more, she produced a hit.

Finally, Brozak tested Reimer, by then a vice president, with new product development. He figured that assignment would show whether she was a big-picture thinker. Reimer identified a new niche that has become a major profit center for the company. “She changed the direction of our sales,” Brozaksays. By 1996, after 13 years at the company’s helm, Brozak wanted more free time. He began passing day-to-day operations to Reimer, giving her new responsibilities gradually to make sure she was ready to be promoted. In April 1997, Reimer officially became president.

Mike Hoffman, “The Leader Within,” Inc.,September 1998

If leaders want to develop others, they need to embrace these assumptions:

  • “Everyone wants to feel worthwhile.
  • Everyone needs and responds to encouragement.
  • People buy into the leader before they buy into the plan.
  • Most people don’t know how to be successful.
  • People are naturally motivated.
  • Most people will move once they receive permission and equipping.”

John C. Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible: Developing Leaders from the Word of God (Nashville: Nelson, 2002), 1437.

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