Leadership Lessons From the Unusual Story of Market Basket

We Are Market Basket

An Uplifting Corporate Story

We often read stories about corporate greed, about slimy executives, about profits at the expense of people. These stories grab headlines because they hit a nerve and fuel anger. I have never read a story quite like We Are Market Basket: The Story of the Unlikely Grassroots Movement That Saved a Beloved Business where employees and customers joined together to demand the return of a fired CEO.

The story may be unique, but it offers powerful lessons and insight into the changing nature of how we view corporations and what we expect as employees.

I recently spoke with the authors, Daniel Korschun and Grant Welker, about this story.

 

Loyalty is Demonstrated Every Day

This story has so many powerful lessons. One of those is about loyalty. What does the We Are Market Basket teach us about loyalty?

Arthur T. and much of the senior management team have been extraordinarily successful at engendering loyalty. But loyalty at this company tends to be viewed as a two-way street. Employees – they call themselves associates – we speak with tell us that they feel loyal to the company and top management because they feel a loyalty to them from that top management. So what we see at Market Basket is people who are reaffirming their commitment to each other over time. The result is these very strong bonds we see. The lesson for managers is that you can’t expect loyalty without making a sacrifice yourself. You’re not going to gain loyalty just by changing the pay or the job responsibilities; it’s something that has to be demonstrated every day.

 

“You can’t expect loyalty without making a sacrifice yourself.”

 

A Respect for Others

Why did Arthur T. inspire such passion and loyalty?

Arthur T. is beloved as the CEO largely because he gives all associates, customers, and vendors respect. He says explicitly that no one person is special at the company, and from what we’ve seen he walks the walk.

But it’s also important to point out his place in the protest. Bringing back Arthur T. was the central demand of protesters, but in our view, they were fighting to save the company’s culture. Reinstating Arthur T. became the critical step in making sure that this New England institution continued to serve those who have known it for years, and sometimes for generations.

Market Basket 

A Lesson for Boards and Corporate Leaders

What does the Market Basket experience teach boards of directors?

Most business schools today teach that the fiduciary responsibility of directors is to look after the interests of shareholders. However, this idea is simply not supported by the corporate code in Massachusetts and many other states. The code states explicitly that the board is to be a steward of the corporation, which includes customers, employees, shareholders, and others. We need to hold our boards to this higher standard.

Leadership lesson: A corporation’s duties extend beyond shareholders to the broader community.

 

A Commitment to the Community

27 Practices Resilient Leaders Use to Thrive

Survive to Thrive

Struggles, Difficulties & Challenges

Someone once told me that people identify more with your struggles than your successes. It’s true for me, too. It’s hard to identify with those who have seemingly had win after win with no knowledge of the effort it took to make it happen. If you talk with any successful person long enough, you start to uncover the difficulties, the challenges, the struggles, and the failures that happened along the way.

One of my entrepreneurial friends, Faisal Hoque, has a new book out about resilience. Faisal and his co-author, journalist Lydia Dishman, share what they learned studying leaders who have thrived in the midst of adversity.  Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders is a journey into resilience.

Faisal recently shared with me more about his latest work.

 

LEARNING TO BE RESILIENT

What is your definition of resilience?

Resilience is the universal human capacity to face, overcome, and even be strengthened by experiences of adversity.

 

“Resiliency is the belief that you can conquer anything.”

 

 survivetothrive

 

Is it possible to learn to be more resilient?

Along with our own life experiences, Lydia and I have examined the stories of a variety of leaders who faced ill health, professional setbacks, emotional loss, and a host of other life-changing events, in order to illustrate how each achieved personal transformation and success by mining their own resilience.

Each story focuses on one of nine essential principles needed to overcome adversity and seize opportunities:

I AM:

  • A person people can like and love
  • Loving and empathetic
  • Willing to be responsible for what I do

I HAVE:

  • People I trust and who love me, no matter what
  • Role models
  • Health, education, and support

I CAN:

  • Communicate
  • Manage feelings and solve problems
  • Seek out trusting relationships

Offered as affirmations for success, we outline take-away lessons and daily practices that can be incorporated in your own professional journey.

 

THE MUST DO’S

Of all of the daily practices you outline in the book, what three are ‘must do’s’ for everyone?

Skip, as you know from your life’s journey, each person’s experiences and challenges are uniquely theirs. And life – personal as well professional – hardly has a formula. What we tried to do is provide contextual learning.

For example, in one of the chapters, we have summed up three key concepts necessary to becoming more authentic and resilient through self-acceptance:

  • self-love
  • self-expression
  • self-confidence

faisal.hoque300dpi2013By practicing self-acceptance, we discover the complexities of our emotions, vulnerabilities, and imperfections. And this is what creates our true authenticity. When we decide to embrace our authentic self, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow.

In an attempt to make these daily practices sustainable for our readers, we have also created a resiliency app.   The Survive To Thrive free app can be accessed at www.SurviveToThrive.pub.

 

“Reinvention is the essence of the resilient mindset.”

 

REINVENTION AND RESILIENCE

10 Commandments of the Dealmaker

HOLLYWOOD: The world famous landmark Hollywood Sig

From Childhood Actor to Dealmaker

Jeff B. Cohen’s story is compelling. The former child actor is best known for his role as “Chunk” in The Goonies. The Goonies debuted and quickly became a classic, but Jeff’s career took a different turn. Adolescence changed both his body and his career trajectory. Now, Jeff is one of the entertainment industry’s prominent transactional attorneys. He co-founded Cohen Gardner LLP and has been named by Variety to its Dealmakers Impact List.

 

“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” -Aristotle

 

Though you may read Jeff’s articles in numerous publications, it’s his book that grabbed my attention. The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments: Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood is a must read for serious negotiators.

Think Chunk meets Machiavelli and you will have a sense of the enduring book he wrote on negotiating. Some are sure to disagree with his philosophy or approach. Some may not like his view of power. Still, the book is a powerful tool for negotiators because it shows a side of negotiating not usually taught in class.

Jeff recently spoke with me about his work, his life as a childhood actor, and his fascinating new book.

 

“He who angers you conquers you.” -Elizabeth Kenny

 

How Your Experience Can Affect Your View

Your story from childhood actor to co-founder of your own Beverly Hills-based law firm makes for great reading. Talk to us about how losing work as a teenage actor impacted your view of power.

Jeff B. CohenAs they say, the beauty of first love is our ignorance that it will ever end. Acting was my first love as a kid, and I was really broken up when I hit puberty and couldn’t get gigs anymore. Fortunately for me, in high school, I found my way to a book written by Niccolo Machiavelli in the early 16th Century called The Prince.

Machiavelli discussed the question “Is it better to be feared or loved?” He comes to the conclusion that it is better to be feared than loved because people fear you because they have to and love you because they want to. A prince can only rely on what he controls.

The book was a revelation to me, because as a performer being loved is your first priority. It showed me that as a business person I would have to view the world differently than I had.

 

“You must unlearn what you have learned.” -Yoda

Phrases Successful Leaders Never Use

Phrases Leaders Never Use
This is a guest post by Zoe Anderson. Zoe is part of the team behind StudySelect. She’s interested in finding new motivation tools and branding strategies. After one of my recent posts on words, this submission grabbed my attention.

The Power of Words

Words have power. Just ask any successful leader. Whether in business, politics, or life, the right words can open the doors of opportunity, while the wrong words can get that same door slammed in your face.

With this list of phrases that you will never hear a successful leader use, you can benefit from the wisdom of others and avoid having the doors of opportunity and success closed to you.

 

“That’s not my fault.”

Good leaders always take responsibility and would never dream of throwing their subordinates under the bus by trying to shift blame. If you always take responsibility, you will gain the trust and loyalty of your team.

 

 

“I’m the boss.”

If you have to keep reminding your team who is in charge, then you are showing your weakness as a leader. Confidence, rather than arrogance is the attitude you should be aiming for. People naturally follow confidence, while arrogance invites contempt.

 

“I’ll do it myself.”

This shows a lack of confidence in your team and sends the message that no one else is as good as you are. If you find that your team isn’t performing up to standard, it’s your job to guide them through and get them the help they need. The first attempts at doing something will rarely yield stellar results. You may need to give people a little space to fail at first so you can give them the feedback they need to improve.