AggMan of the Year 2012
Putting leadership into action
Luck Companies enjoyed a number of early successes through the implementation of values based leadership, including completing acquisitions when competitors did not. The key, Luck says, was using the training and tools to impact not only their own behavior, but to assess what was important to the people on the other end of the transaction.
“This work continued to snowball. We’ve increased the amount of funding every year. We’ve increased the amount of training every year. And then, the recession came,” Luck notes. “Some of our doubting associates said, ‘Wait until the economy gets bad. They’ll stop doing this values based leadership in a minute.’”
But that prediction never came to pass. Instead, Luck says, the company used its values and mission more than ever. For the first time in its history, Luck Companies — like many businesses — had a reduction in force (RIF), which impacted18 percent of its work force. “We said that every one of our decisions and how we work with our associates has to reflect, at the highest level, the use of our values, our leadership, our training,” Luck says. “How we went about it was a testimony to values based leadership.”
Luck Companies communicated frankly and transparently with associates about why the RIF was necessary. It set up a separate office off site for displaced associates. Workers were given assistance with creating resumes and posting them to job placement sites, and the office was kept open until every associate either had a job or said they no longer required assistance.
Values based leadership also transformed how Luck Stone approaches zoning and permitting issues. Traditionally, the company identified potential reserves, talked to the homeowner, drilled samples, and met with supervisors to gauge support. If supervisors supported site development, Luck Stone would move as quickly as possible to the application process. Today, it continues to identify and verify reserves and work with homeowners, however, it now seeks community involvement through feedback sessions and dialogue. It assesses community goals and concerns before proceeding.
“We do all of that work, which, at times, can take years, before we go to zoning and permitting hearings,” Luck says. “What we have found is that we have been much more warmly received. People find us much more transparent, much more honest. We’ve used creativity in the process of addressing their concerns. We’ve used leadership. We’ve shown them that we have high integrity and commitment. We did not do that before we had our values so clearly articulated.”
Measuring the results
While some skeptics may question whether a people-based focus can truly impact the bottom line, Luck Companies regularly sees the results of its values based leadership focus.
“It is very well researched and documented that — when you have a leader who has high leadership skills, high clarity around their values, and people who work in alignment with that — the performance of the team will be at least 10 to 20 percent higher than a team that’s not aligned and not well led,” Luck says. “What happens is that associates are happy at work, they are engaged in their work, they innovate, and they take better care of customers.”
Many companies have a number of million-dollar ideas that are dormant within their people, he says. Associates don’t bring them forward because they don’t feel that they are supported or that leadership is open to their ideas. “What we have seen is that when you put leadership in place that opens up the culture, opens up communication, and provides trust, associates’ engagement and enablement increases,” he says. “On a daily, monthly, yearly basis, there are thousands of things that have been improved — starting on the front lines — that have had a dramatic impact on the company.”
Expanding the impact
During recent years, Luck Companies has been taking its message about value based leadership outside the walls of its own companies. In October 2011, it held a leadership symposium in Washington, D.C. Further events are planned for AGG1 in San Antonio on March 18, 2013; in New York City in 2014; and in an international venue in 2015. Executives have also been busy with public speaking and education about values based leadership. They have completed approximately 250 speaking engagements before more than 20,000 people.
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