Living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I am a dedicated Saints fan. These past few years it’s been fun, but I can still remember the days when the team played so badly that fans wore paper bags over their heads at the game. One reason I enjoy the Saints is that Sean Payton and Drew Brees are such class acts.
My dad loves Dan Marino and has been a Dolphins fan for years, but even he was excited when Brees broke Marino’s record for total passing yards in a season. What impressed me most was the locker room session afterwards in which Brees spent the whole time lauding the fact that while there may only be one name in the record book it took the entire team working together to break it. He acknowledged the offense, the defense, the coaches, the managers, the owner, and I think even the water boy.
In this moment, I think Brees demonstrated why he was able to break the record. Sure, he’s a superb athlete and one of the best quarterbacks to play the game. But the leadership that he and Payton demonstrate and the loyalty which that engenders in the team is what made it all possible.
In running Triton, the company that my two partners and I built, we always felt that we were all a team working together. My partners and I truly respected and appreciated everyone who worked with us whether they were one of the engineering geniuses who designed our products or the newest member of the production team who built them. We valued each and every person and asked only that they give us their best.
I have known people who treat those who they view as equal or above them on the social ladder one way and those below them quite a bit differently. I have seen companies in which their corporate culture made it clear that a type of caste system was in play in which some employees were viewed as second class citizens. I always thought this was wrong. I was taught that you treat people based on what they are inside and their core values not based on their net worth or what they have achieved in life.
When I worked in Fortune 500 companies, I often saw a culture in which management behaved as royalty and all non-management employees as serfs. I vowed that if I ever had my own company I would create a different environment. I think we succeeded.
Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.
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