Graduate Blog / Graduate Life

Become a leader, not a manager – Bob Chapman at Babson College

Bob Chapman is the Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, a US $1.7 billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting company that measures its success by the way they touch the lives of people.

Bob Chapman

Bob starts talking about the importance of becoming leaders and not managers. This is because managers view people as objects, as part of their success. But people don´t want to just be a stepping stone in someone else´s success, they want to know who they are and what they do matters. Leaders care for the people who are entrusted to them. Since listening is the act of caring, you cannot be a leader without listening.

According to Bob, the way we do business affects the way we live. For this reason, business is the most powerful source of good if managers become leaders by embracing the challenge of caring for the people and the lives entrusted to them. He believes that leadership and parenthood are equivalent. His anecdote is that he found himself thinking about this concept at a wedding, when he realized everybody is somebody´s precious child.

Bob encourages us to think of the possibility of a world where people go home knowing they matter, instead of going home unmotivated and just surviving until Friday. When you show people they matter you profoundly change their lives and because of this you change the lives of those they touch.

So how to apply such a concept in real life, where managers are pressured to achieve results?

Applying this concepts in a company that was once suffering because of a recession, Bob took the decision of having each person take a month off instead of letting go some people. His employees were happy to do this because they felt more secure in their jobs, while at the same time they were helping preserve a friend´s job. This idea came to mind because he thought, what would a caring family do in this situation? – They would all suffer a bit.