And Dignity for All: Unlocking Greatness with Values-Based Leadership

Overview

And Dignity for All is about leading with values, leading by example, and - in so doing - unleashing the astonishing commitment and innovation that are buried within your organization right now. Discover how Jim Despain and his colleagues used values-based management to transform Caterpillar's Track-Type Tractors Division into one of the firm's key profit centers. Jim's honesty and ability to rise from the ashes of his mistakes are inspirational. His respect for the common worker and personal search for dignity ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (39) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $5.95   
  • Used (29) from $1.99   
And Dignity for All: Unlocking Greatness with Values-Based Leadership

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.99
BN.com price
(Save 43%)$24.95 List Price

Overview

And Dignity for All is about leading with values, leading by example, and - in so doing - unleashing the astonishing commitment and innovation that are buried within your organization right now. Discover how Jim Despain and his colleagues used values-based management to transform Caterpillar's Track-Type Tractors Division into one of the firm's key profit centers. Jim's honesty and ability to rise from the ashes of his mistakes are inspirational. His respect for the common worker and personal search for dignity and self-worth lead him to a new kind of leadership. And his transformation of a struggling organization provides a powerful blueprint for transforming your own - you can make it happen, too.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Vice president and general manager James Despain began his corporate ascent at Caterpillar as a floor sweeper. As inspiring as it is, however, the story of his personal journey from hourly drudge to executive in the world's largest manufacturer of heavy equipment comprises only half this book. The other half consists of techniques for building a corporate culture that works: one based on respect, empowerment, civility, and openness. …And Dignity for All signals the decline of "command-and-control" bosses and the rise of workers who care.
Eric Stephan
This is absolutely the most inspiring story about corporate leadership that I have read in the past 15 years! If you want to understand how to turn on employees and turn up profits, Jim Despain's real life journey from floor sweeper to Vice President of a $20 billion company is a must read. Every chapter is filled with important insights for transforming any business into a great company. So refreshing. Almost makes life worth living.
BYU, Marriott School of Business and author of Powerful Leadership
Gerald L. Shaheen
They say people can't change, but this book will convince you it's not true. I saw the Values Process described in this book change Jim and his team from autocratic managers to real leaders. And, I saw their business improve far beyond anyone's expectations. This book proves what we know in our hearts-that trusting and respecting people makes good business sense.
Group President, Caterpillar Inc.
J. Dennis Hastert

"I highly recommend Jim Despain's book, And Dignity for All, to anyone who aspires to reach his or her dreams. It is an excellent story that clearly outlines how important it is to take risks, face your fears, and overcome any obstacles to reach success. This book allows readers to reflect on how they can transform their lives into something they never thought could be imaginable.

"Through my personal experience as a former high school teacher and as a leader in the United States Congress, I have learned to recognize the qualities of a great leader. While serving in these capacities, I have come to understand the truth behind the saying, 'leaders aren't born, they are made.' This message is conveyed throughout the book as Jim Despain tells a story about his transformational journey through life that helped him develop into a charismatic and effective leader. It is a story about how he worked his way up the ranks in a high profile company named Caterpillar, always with steady focus and with fierce determination that allowed him to overcome any challenge that came his way. Furthermore, it shows how Jim Despain inspired his workforce to put aside their differences and trust one another in order to pursue a more efficient, positive working environment.

"It was encouraging to read about Jim growing up in a small mining town in Illinois. He never received a college degree, but still managed to develop into one of the more respected, inspirational leaders and role models within the Caterpillar organization. This book reinforced my belief that each individual is responsible for the outcome of their own future-that success isn't always handed to a person on a silver platter, but rather earned through hard work and determination.

"I am thankful Jim Despain shared his personal story so that others might have the chance to understand what it takes to be a successful leader, and above all, how to make any career aspiration come true."
Speaker of the House

Ken Blanchard
When Jim Despain asked me to write a foreword for his book And Dignity for All, I was thrilled. Why? I'm a big Jim Depain fan.…You're going to love this book. What people want in leaders today, more than ever before, is integrity-walking their talk. And Dignity for All is all about integrity.…This might very well be the best management book you ever read. I know it will help you unleash the power and potential of your human organization. Thanks, Jim.
Co-author, The One Minute Manager
Marshall Goldsmith
The cry for corporate integrity is greater today than ever before. And Dignity for All shows us how to succeed with integrity, not just succeed. It is a compelling case study of a wonderful journey toward individual transition and corporate transition.
Founding Director of the Financial Times Knowledge Dialogue and the Alliance for Strategic Leadership and author of fourteen books, including The Leader of the Future (a BusinessWeek best seller)
Robert Slater
Jim Despain pulls off this business memoir beautifully. It is a rare and honest look at what it was like for a low-level employee to struggle and overcome obstacles in a not-always-friendly corporate environment. Jim's climb up the ladder is inspiring. Start-up employees as well as executives should read this book carefully.
author of Jack Welch and the GE Way
Publishers Weekly
Ending the struggle between workers and bosses is the agenda of this frank but tendentious memoir-cum-manifesto by former Caterpillar vice-president Despain, who worked his way up from floor-sweeper to VP and general manager of the tractor division where he started. In his climb up the corporate ladder, Despain gained an intimate knowledge of the ongoing shop-floor strife between arrogant, abusive managers and recalcitrant, feather-bedding union workers. But in an overseas posting, he got a look at Japanese factories where harmony and mutual respect reigned, and he later triumphed by inspiring unskilled but eager Mexican workers with his quality-boosting "excellencia" system. Recalled to run Caterpillar's ailing Peoria complex, Despain instituted a new management "vision" emphasizing "people-based versus power-based principles" built on values like trust, teamwork and empowerment, which he credits with restoring profitability and morale after the bitter 1994 strike that ended with the union returning to work without a contract. Despain offers many valuable first-hand insights into workplace conflicts, and he is unusually forthright in placing unions, a topic that many management theorists side-step, at the center of his discussion of labor-management relations. But his treatment is one-sided; while he even-handedly condemns excesses on both sides of the labor-management divide, his tacit conclusion is that it is the union that must give way to management's high-minded human-relations initiatives. His call for labor-management solidarity is laudable, but some workers may see it as the velvet glove on the mailed fist. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
How A Company and a Man Changed Tracks
James Despain began his career at Caterpillar as a broom sweeper on the factory floor. Forty-three years later, he retired from the company as an executive vice president who had transformed a deeply unprofitable division of the firm into one of its most important profit makers. With no college education but a deep-seated need to work hard and improve his company, he was able to make long-term, successful changes. More than a biography, however, ... And Dignity For All is the story of a manager's transformation from feared bully boss to a leader who understands the power of respect and positive support.

Despain learned early from a brutal coal-mining father that authority must be respected or the consequences would be painful. After high school and a stint in the Air National Guard, he went to work for Caterpillar, and took the hard lessons of blind obedience from his boyhood and military service with him.

After hard days on the shop floor, a stint in a management apprentice program, and a year layoff from the company, Despain returned to work for Caterpillar as a machine operator. When his amazing productivity and efficiency became the reason his supervisor would not let him leave the shop floor to move up the ranks of the company, he quit his job and went to work at a small tool and die shop where he became plant manager. After running into similar problems with managers there, he returned to Caterpillar as a salaried office employee. Within months he returned to the plant as a supervisor.

A Bully Boss
As a foreman, Despain felt the power of his job. He became tougher, meaner and more aggressive when he dealt with complaints and accusations. His role as a bully boss was made apparent on an assembly line one day when the operator told him an overworked machine was beginning to smoke. In an effort to meet production demands and make his deadlines, Despain describes how he forced his employees to keep the machine running at any cost, despite the potential for a fire, injury or worse.

After taking a job for Caterpillar in Cleveland, Despain learned how divisions between employees and managers could create huge rifts that hampered productivity and progress. While in Japan on another assignment, Despain gained a new perspective on the importance of building a culture of performance and respect. After moving again, this time to Mexico, Despain learned how a devotion to quality must be forged with passionate belief.

Eight years later and back home in Peoria, Ill., he was made a vice president of North American plants for Caterpillar, and put in charge of the company's Track-Type Tractor Division. Before he arrived at this division, plant modernization, reengineering, reorganization, and total quality management were doing nothing to help the company turn a profit. The division was in the company's original plant, had a culture that was almost as old, and its employees - who had just returned to work after an eight-month strike - were unhappy. As competitors were making great headway in the industry, the division was facing tough times.

When Despain took a hard look at his own command-and-control management style, he realized that he was part of the division's problems as much as anything else. This is when he set out to change his own style of leadership to better fit his ideals, and change the company's culture as well. Taking his cue from role models in Japan and elsewhere who had offered him better ways to deal with people and management issues, Despain transformed himself and the division by establishing a set of nine core values - trust, mutual respect, teamwork, empowerment, risk taking, a sense of urgency, continuous improvement, commitment and customer satisfaction - to guide employee interactions.

'More Freedom to Make a Difference'
Despain writes that these core values became "a blueprint for creating a work environment that drives success because they provide people a context for their decisions, broad boundaries for their ideas, and more freedom to make a difference." He explains that these values, and not large capital investments and forced "right-sizing," improved everything at the division, from profit to employee satisfaction.

Why Soundview Likes This Book
... And Dignity For All shines as a management book because it is the tale of a dynamic middle manager who experienced an epiphany late in his career and metamorphosed from a hard-nosed boss who made bad management decisions to a leader who learned the importance of trust and integrity. Despain was able to learn from his mistakes and gain a greater understanding of the value that a company can gain when employees are empowered and allowed to express themselves with support from managers who know how to unlock greatness and embrace positive change. Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

JIM DESPAIN rose from hourly worker at Caterpillar to Vice President and General Manager of Track-Type Tractors Division in East Peoria, Illinois—one of the company's largest manufacturing facilities. As its leader, he transformed the division's bottom line, cutting its breakeven point in half, while at the same time dramatically improving its historically difficult labor relations. Despain is currently a trustee at Eureka College.

JANE BODMAN CONVERSE was the communications player on Jim's culture-change team, responsible for messages and media to support the transformation at Caterpillar. She is President of Converse Inc., Peoria, Illinois, and has more than 30 years experience in organizational consulting, communications, and marketing.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

I am not your typical senior executive. I don't have an MBA. I wasn'tborn with a silver spoon in my mouth. No, this is the story of someone with an unlikely resume forsuccess. I was married when I was 16. I didn't go to college. What I learned, I learned on the job.I watched and I listened. I read and I asked. I tried and I failed. I learned and tried again.
Thisbook is the story of a lifetime of experiences and the lessons I learned that enabled me to becomea true leader of people. I began my career as a sweeper in a factory that makes the largestearthmoving equipment in the world. I ended it at the same company—a vice president of a $20billion corporation. This story includes how we transformed a factory and an entire division intohighly profitable leaders in our corporation and industry. It tells you how to do the same inwhatever business you find yourself.
In the end, through my own experiences, achievements, andstruggles, I discovered that values, defined as shared beliefs with standards for behavior in theworkplace, are the key to succeeding in changing and challenging times. These values aren't amoralistic code based on personal or company ethics, although ethics are integral. Instead, theyare a blueprint for creating a work environment that drives success because they provide people acontext for their decisions, broad boundaries for their ideas, and more freedom to make adifference.
And what a difference people with values can make. The Track-Type Tractors Division ofCaterpillar Inc. saw unprecedented improvement—improvement in everything from profit toemployee satisfaction. And we did this without extraordinary capital investment,forced"right-sizing," product replacements or additions, new marketing strategies, or any othertraditional idea. By establishing workplace values, we caused employees to feel an investment inthe organization. We inspired rather than constrained and, in the process, created ahigh-performance organization.
This book is the story of the transformation of a man and thetransformation of a business. Its purpose is to enable you to become a more effective leader and toshorten your journey by telling you what took me a lifetime to learn—that true leadership isvery different from management. Leadership is about others and not about self. It is about trustand not about power. It is about producing results by creating cultures where people know it's okayto be unique and different, so they willingly take off their masks, express themselves, and dogreat things. Their clash of opposing ideas generates sparks that light the path to progress. Myhope is that this book and my story will help unlock greatness for you.—Jim Despain

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword XV
Acknowledgments XIX
Introduction XXI
Chapter 1 Death of the Dog 1
Chapter 2 Pitchin' Pennies 9
Chapter 3 The Speck in My Eye 23
Chapter 4 Benched 35
Chapter 5 Unjust Rewards 43
Chapter 6 A Second Betrayal 53
Chapter 7 The Piand That Played 63
Chapter 8 The Line on Fire 73
Chapter 9 Thieves in the Night 81
Chapter 10 The Sound of Silence 91
Chapter 11 Alone with My Fears 105
Chapter 12 Excellencia 113
Chapter 13 Back to the Beginning 121
Chapter 14 Turning It Around 133
Chapter 15 A Painful Conclusion 147
Chapter 16 The Struggle is On 153
Chapter 17 One Strong Voice 165
Chapter 18 Legacy 173
Chapter 19 The Legacy Lives 181
Conclusion 187
Appendix 189
Read More Show Less

First Chapter

CHAPTER 13-BACK TO THE BEGINNING

"I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." - Harry S. Truman

Eight years after I began the Mexican assignment, I was called home. I felt an unusual sadness. Getting the plant up and running, then losing the momentum, and then seeing it rise again like the mythical Phoenix was unique in my business experiences. I realized my sadness stemmed from being pulled away from the journey the Mexican plant was taking in building its reputation, its work culture, and its future. It was as if I had started out the skipper of a sailboat with a group of people I'd never met and who knew little about sailing. Together we learned to stay the course, navigate through dangerous shoals, sail through smooth waters, and weather small and gigantic storms. A new assignment in the United States made me feel as if I had been put ashore. I was happy to have my feet on solid ground again, but part of me still longed to sail with the crew and to see where the journey would take us.

While leaving Mexico at this juncture saddened me, I wasn't completely disappointed in my next assignment. In fact, I was excited about the prospect of coming home, of returning as plant manager of the factories where I had begun my career with the company as a sweeper more than 33 years before. Soon after returning home, I drove my wife around the plant in our car to show her the breadth of my new responsibility. "My God," was Gloria's reaction. She was stunned by the sheer size of the plant and the massive number of people who worked inside. But more exciting to me than size and scope was the fact that this plant was known by many as the company's crown jewel-the mother ship. It built the company's signature equipment, the equipment from which the company took its name. I knew the quality of the product that came out of the plant. "The best in the company," I thought to myself. "At least here we'll have a jump start on excellencia!" This quality helped generate a commanding lead in worldwide market share. "This is good. As markets mature here at home, we're making up the difference in Europe and Asia. This is good." I knew the managers at the plant. "Well-seasoned, most experienced, know the business, good team." The manufacturing processes in the plant had just been modernized. This, too, buoyed my spirits as I prepared for my return and to make an impact in my new position.

During my first days back at the plant, I expected to feel a sense of nostalgia, a homecoming of sorts. But instead things seemed somehow distorted or out of kilter. And as the days stretched into weeks, and my involvement as plant manager grew, I felt more and more like a stranger in a strange land. Nowhere did I see the calm respect of the Japanese or the strong sense of teamwork I had grown to love and admire in Mexico. Nowhere did I see the quiet progress of kaizen or the enthusiasm of excellencia. Instead, I saw managers and workers pushing for control and testing limits. I saw informers and scapegoats. I saw political-like favors being curried and granted. Intrigue, ambush, attack, retreat-this was the daily routine of the plant. In fact, so much energy was expended in the power struggle that I often wondered how any work ever got done. One day, I heard that Frank, one of my department managers, had given a strange order. Apparently, he had noticed a factory worker spending an extended period of time away from his workstation. He checked in the restroom and, with some effort, managed to look over a stall door. Inside, the worker sat reading a newspaper. As a result, Frank gave an order for all the building's restroom doors to be cut in half.

I called Frank into my office. "Is it true you've given an order to cut the restroom doors in half?" "Crap, Jim, you know these slackers. We've got to watch them everywhere. I just made it a little easier to check up on them," Frank replied. "Do you think cutting off the bathroom doors is an appropriate response?" I barked. "Do you think it's fair to make everyone pay for one guy's offense?" "You're damn right," Frank answered. "People have gotten the message, and you don't see newspapers all over the floor anymore."

"Frank, I don't want you or anybody else checking on people when they're in the can. For Pete's sake, we've got to respect the privacy of our people. Replace the doors and do it now." "Hell, Jim, they don't deserve privacy. Give 'em privacy and they'll sit around all day reading the newspaper."

I felt the veins in my neck throbbing. "Frank, are you going to put the doors back on or am I?" I asked, in a much louder and more authoritarian voice than I had used in a long time. "I can't believe you're sticking up for those guys," Frank said. "I'm not sticking up for anybody. It's about decency and privacy." My patience was wearing thin and my tone of voice reflected it. "Now what are you going to do about those doors?" "All right, all right, I'll put the doors back up," Frank said. "But if we run into problems with slackers in the future, don't come crying to me."

The doors went back up. The ire that Frank's act had caused subsided temporarily. But the peace was shattered when a man was found sleeping on a stool in the tool room, while his machine ran idly without turning out a piece of work. This time Frank ordered the removal of every stool in the tool room. He didn't care whether the stools were necessary for some of the employees to do their work or not. Sitting on a stool meant the opportunity to sleep-and Frank wanted none of that. Again, he punished everyone for the act of a single individual. Again, his solution generated anger and complaints from the work force. Again, I intervened. The stools went back. Skirmishes like these continued on a routine basis. Some workers wanted to do a good job, but knew their co-workers might threaten or embarrass them for doing so. Others had taken advantage of the company for years, doing as little as they could to get by. Managers and supervisors generally fell into one of two camps. One group walked a fine line between the workers they supervised and the management group that supervised them. Most had been burnt on both sides trying to do their jobs and were simply afraid to do much of anything extraordinary anymore. In the second group were the "bull of the woods" managers. They thrived on conflict in the plant, taking pleasure in stirring the pot and squaring off at one another. Once, I heard one of these managers say to another, "I didn't sleep too good last night and I don't feel so great this morning. I'm going to go get my adrenaline up-I'm going to go find somebody to chew the hell out of to get my heart started."

All these experiences reminded me of my time in the plant some 30 years before. I remembered pushing my broom and listening to supervisors harass the workers. "You stupid SOB...what kind of a moron...your ass is outta here...." I remembered my excitement at running a machine beyond its listed capacity and receiving threats from my co-workers. "A man could get beaten up pretty bad if he's not careful...don't piss off the boys or you'll regret it..."

"But that was 30 years ago," I thought. "I've changed. Why haven't they?"

After the restroom and tool-room incidents, I began applying rules consistently in the plant. I supported supervisors who were trying to do their jobs. Often, management gave in to the complaints of front-line workers without hearing the supervisor's side of the story. It wasn't that management believed the worker more than the supervisor-it was just more expedient to give in to the worker and avoid the whole grievance issue. So what if supervisors were made scapegoats? Someone had to take the heat, so it might as well be them. But this practice not only created an environment lacking in integrity, it also destroyed any semblance of discipline, policy, and purpose there might have been. I knew this automatic direction of blame toward line supervisors was not good for the company. Who would want to be a supervisor, knowing that when trouble came, you were always wrong? Who would want to follow the rules, knowing management would take the worker's side over yours any day? The habit bred fear and hatred. I did my best to stop it. Consistency in the application of policy and support of supervisors began to pay off. Politicking diminished. Backbiting and blaming began to be less harsh. I felt I was making progress in the plant.

After several successful months as plant manager, I attended a Plant Operations Council meeting, where all the managers, plant managers, and officers of the company gathered to discuss strategy and plans for the future. After dinner one evening during the week-long session, two other managers and I were playing cards with Roger, the chairman of the company. "Get up for a minute, Jim, and come over here and talk to me," Roger said. I was a little worried. "Did I make some mistake in the game?" I wondered as I followed Roger to an isolated area.

"If I submit your name to the board of directors to become an officer of the company, to become vice president of North American plants, would you accept?" Roger asked. I about fell out of my skin. I was floored. Vice president of North American plants! The promotion was heady. Now I would have responsibility for all the plants in the United States, the plant in Canada, and the plant in Mexico. Now I would have the position and authority to try some of the ideas I had discovered in Japan and Mexico. The opportunity was mind-boggling. "Of course," I stammered to Roger. "Of course."

I felt as if I was floating on air the rest of the evening. When I got home, I took Gloria downstairs to the bar for a glass of wine. "You know that trip Matt (a company vice president) and I are taking tomorrow?" I asked with a grin. "Well, there are going to be two vice presidents on that plane." I laughed out loud. Vice president! "This is better than a dream come true," I thought, "because I never dreamed I'd make it this far."

Soon after, I was officially elected vice president of North American plants. Ralph, the retiring vice president, began to break me in. He drove me from plant to plant, pointing out each facility's strengths and weaknesses. He explained which managers were worth their weight in gold and which constantly needed a "kick in the pants." I asked Ralph thousands of questions, ranging from the very high-level to the most mundane. One day, as we traveled to a plant south of headquarters, I asked, "When you go to these plants, where do you park?" Ralph gave me a strange look. With steely eyes as cold as the iron that went into the company's product, he responded, "Anywhere I goddamn please."

I chuckled out loud so I wouldn't insult Ralph, but deep down I was knocked off balance by the answer. Somehow it conveyed the absolute power of my new position. This man Ralph could park anywhere, and no one would question him. No one in the company held a more supreme position over employees in North America than Ralph did. And soon, I realized, I would assume that power. The realization frightened me a bit. On one hand, I would have the power to make the work place better. On the other, I stood the chance of acquiring Ralph's attitude of superiority toward the very people who made the position possible. I wondered how I could keep from going down that road. I wondered how I could adapt my power and position to create connections, not barriers, with the people I led.

I never had the opportunity to find out. Within a year, the company began to undertake a major restructuring project. The company's executives were faced with an ever-expanding business, one that was growing not only into new areas of the United States and the world, but also into new areas of business. Financial services. Insurance. Logistics. Power generation. World trade. As the company grew, it became more and more difficult-and more and more time-consuming-to control operations from one central location. Why not, a strategic planning committee of company executives asked, create independent divisions, each with its own operations and financial responsibilities? Why not go back to the entrepreneurial style that made us successful in the past? Why not give the power to the people closest to the action, the people who know the ins and outs of their specific businesses, industries, competitors, and customers? And so the giant company was reorganized into divisions. Some functions remained centralized, like Human Resources and Public Relations. But for the most part, the divisions were given their independence-and the responsibility to prove their worth financially. My position as vice president of North American plants was no longer needed. I was assigned to a staff vice president position at the company's headquarters, where I ostensibly provided manufacturing expertise to three of the plants I had led under my old position. But the shift was uneasy. I really had no authority-I was an adviser, a consultant. Drawing on my experiences in Mexico, I provided strong leadership in developing organizational lines of management for the plants. But creating organizational charts and assigning responsibilities wasn't an ongoing task, and it didn't take me long to complete. Soon, I found I had nothing to do, and I felt the old emotions of my first days in Japan resurfacing. Frustrated and annoyed, I went to my boss. "Greg, we've completed the organizational work for the plants," I said, "but now it seems there's nothing left for me to do."

"Nothing to do?" Greg laughed. "C'mon, Jim, there's always plenty to do around here. You're just in a lull. Now get back to your office and see how you can help those plants." "Maybe he's right," I thought. "After all, getting the right people in the right positions takes a lot of work. I'll give the plant managers a few more weeks and then see how I can help." But in a few weeks, the plant managers still had no time or work for me. In the reverse situation, I wouldn't have had any for them, either. I tried to amuse myself with minor paper pushing, but it didn't help. My entire career at the company had been spent where the action was, in the plants. There, deadlines were tight and accomplishments were clear. Product rolling out the door on time and within budget was a success. Anything less was failure. That I knew how to do. I knew how to succeed and how to motivate others. Most of my career had been spent managing people. No matter that the people had been different-the rough and tough Midwest factory workers, the quiet and respectful Japanese, the young and enthusiastic Mexicans. Part of the challenge, part of the fun, had been figuring out the right way to relate to each group. In this staff job, I had none of those things. I had little, if any, opportunity to make things happen inside the plants. I had no people to supervise, to motivate, to challenge. And without them, my demeanor turned sour. I was sullen at work and harsh at home. I looked for signs I was being set up to be let go. I began to question my ability. I wondered how I had ever been so successful. I spoke sarcastically about being the "vice president of nothing" and called my secretary the "secretary of nothing."

As the restructuring of the company neared completion, my boss called me into his office. "Jim, it's time for a more permanent assignment. There are two alternatives. You can choose." My stomach tightened. I was being demoted. I knew it. "What are they?" I asked flatly. "Well, it's one of two facilities or businesses," Greg said. "You will be vice president in charge of one of the new strategic divisions." Then he identified the two alternatives. "Take some time and think about where you want to go."

I saw the writing on the wall. Instead of being in charge of all the plants in North America, I was being relegated to just one. The muscles on the back of my neck tensed. I was not going to be a willing participant in this conspiracy to spiral down my career. If my superiors wanted to demote or retire me, then by God, they were going to have to do it by themselves. "I think you should make that decision based on my skills and abilities," I told Greg. "I think you should know best where I ought to go. You decide and let me know." "Are you sure?" Greg asked.

"Yep. You decide." My words dropped with a resounding thud. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I was walking away from a decision that directly affected me. Inwardly, I shuddered. "Who have I become?"

Shortly after my conversation with Greg, I was named vice president and general manager of the company's new tractors division. I would be returning to the facility where I had begun my career as a sweeper, the facility I had returned to as plant manager just two years before. Suddenly it didn't seem like a demotion. I was relieved with the assignment. At least I would be back in the plant, back to managing people and getting product out the door, the things I did best. Yes, the division had culture problems, but it also had the most modern and technologically advanced manufacturing processes, the highest-quality products, and the most experienced management team. And now that it was an independent division, the facility also had its own profit-and-loss responsibility. "This is better than a functional responsibility for several plants without bottom-line responsibility," I thought. Now I would be able to implement some of the management techniques I'd learned over the years and show the company how profitably I could lead a division.

As I settled into my new position, my first order of business was to understand the new financial statements. Previously, this manufacturing entity had been like all other manufacturing plants, a cost center. I was anxious, but not because I was worried about the numbers. Instead, I couldn't wait to find out how much I could help improve the profitability of the division. How much more profit could the division squeeze out using the concepts I'd learned in Japan and executed in Mexico? Again, I recalled my early days as a supervisor. I remembered how I had inherited the worst-performing lines in the plant, but how together, under my leadership, they had become the most productive. My old dream of leading a team wearing matching shirts and dungarees drifted through my mind. "Finally, after all these years, it's going to happen," I told myself. I couldn't wait to get my hands on that P&L.

During this period of waiting, I reassessed the situation. The company as a whole was profitable; therefore, my new division had to be. In fact, when I considered the seasoned management capability, the state-of-the-art manufacturing technology recently implemented at a cost of several hundred million dollars, the division's reputation for quality, and its overall market performance, deep inside I thought the division might be among the top units in the company. And when I let myself dream a little, I even thought it might be the company's top performer.

Finally, the accounting people brought me the numbers. I studied them closely, looking carefully at each number and scrutinizing the bottom line. Something was terribly wrong. The numbers weren't good. In fact, they were awful. The plant was bleeding red. "This can't be," I thought. "There has to be a mistake. How can we not be making money? Somebody messed up. Somebody double-counted costs or overlooked some buckets of profit."

I called the accounting people back into my office immediately. "There is something wrong with these financials. What I see is not possible. You guys missed something. Please go through them again and find the error."

The accountants were fairly certain the financials were correct, but my tone of voice left no room for argument. They left the office, saying they'd be happy to re-run the numbers. The next day I received a new report. The numbers were exactly the same, so I requested a meeting with the division's business manager. Together we went over the figures carefully. I asked question after question and again requested the numbers be re-checked. When the third report arrived, it was delivered by one of the younger accountants in the division. I knew from this alone that the news was bad. If there had been an error, if the financials had changed somehow, the business manager would have brought them himself. Indeed, there was little if any difference. The plant was losing money, significant money-tens of millions of dollars a year. Of this the accountants were sure. "Damn," I thought. "No change. Deja vu. What are we going to do now?"

Here I was full circle, back to where I began more than 30 years ago. Back home. And home was bleeding red. Although the division also made tractors in Brazil, Japan, and France, this was the major operation; here were the largest facilities and undoubtedly the source of the problem and the key to the answer. Knowing the truth kindled my doubts. "How could we ever profitably manufacture equipment here when we had some of the highest labor rates in the world? And what might our other problems be?" I thought. My American spirit and competitive juices were crying for answers. We had work to do. We had to find a way.

Read More Show Less

Preface

Introduction

I am not your typical senior executive. I don't have an MBA. I wasn'tborn with a silver spoon in my mouth. No, this is the story of someone with an unlikely resume forsuccess. I was married when I was 16. I didn't go to college. What I learned, I learned on the job.I watched and I listened. I read and I asked. I tried and I failed. I learned and tried again.
Thisbook is the story of a lifetime of experiences and the lessons I learned that enabled me to becomea true leader of people. I began my career as a sweeper in a factory that makes the largestearthmoving equipment in the world. I ended it at the same company—a vice president of a $20billion corporation. This story includes how we transformed a factory and an entire division intohighly profitable leaders in our corporation and industry. It tells you how to do the same inwhatever business you find yourself.
In the end, through my own experiences, achievements, andstruggles, I discovered that values, defined as shared beliefs with standards for behavior in theworkplace, are the key to succeeding in changing and challenging times. These values aren't amoralistic code based on personal or company ethics, although ethics are integral. Instead, theyare a blueprint for creating a work environment that drives success because they provide people acontext for their decisions, broad boundaries for their ideas, and more freedom to make adifference.
And what a difference people with values can make. The Track-Type Tractors Division ofCaterpillar Inc. saw unprecedented improvement—improvement in everything from profit toemployee satisfaction. And we did this without extraordinary capital investment, forced"right-sizing," product replacements or additions, new marketing strategies, or any othertraditional idea. By establishing workplace values, we caused employees to feel an investment inthe organization. We inspired rather than constrained and, in the process, created ahigh-performance organization.
This book is the story of the transformation of a man and thetransformation of a business. Its purpose is to enable you to become a more effective leader and toshorten your journey by telling you what took me a lifetime to learn—that true leadership isvery different from management. Leadership is about others and not about self. It is about trustand not about power. It is about producing results by creating cultures where people know it's okayto be unique and different, so they willingly take off their masks, express themselves, and dogreat things. Their clash of opposing ideas generates sparks that light the path to progress. Myhope is that this book and my story will help unlock greatness for you.

—Jim Despain

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

Creating a Culture of Achievement
The idea for this book was born when I was both an observer and a participant in a Cinderella-like story that took place at Track-Type Tractors, a division of Caterpillar Inc. that makes some of the largest earth-moving equipment in the world. I saw "dignity for all" work its magic as it transformed a man and a business. I watched Jim Despain and other hard-line managers, change from control-based to values-based leaders who built trusting relationships and produced amazing business results.

The transformation began when -- after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on plant modernization and other traditional means for turning their business around, without the desired result -- Jim and his management team concluded that culture in and of itself might be the problem. It was then that they asked each other, "What if the people of Track-Type Tractors shared common values and a vision and were empowered to succeed? How much better would we feel? How much more able would we be? Would satisfaction grow here because we were committed to each other and practiced real respect? Would customers notice better service? Would we?" And so began the journey to find and learn and use common values to build a better workplace, to build a better product, to build a better company. Jim and his managers defined values as "shared beliefs that set the standards for behavior in the workplace." This book describes these behaviors in great detail.

Was leading with values easy? No. I heard Jim tell people that values were like "a candle with a wet wick, and my job is to light the candle every day." On hot afternoons I saw him fill the bucket of a tractor with cool drinks and drive through the factory to personally deliver refreshments to tired workers. I saw those workers -- with some of the highest wages and benefits in the world -- find ways to prove their value. Together they made an amazing difference. They reduced total costs by 50 percent. They increased productivity, lowered break-even, and made their division profitable again. Employee satisfaction soared.

We wrote this book to document the powerful process that caused the change and make it available to others. We hope organizations large and small, in service industries as well as manufacturing, will use this book to create and preserve work environments that engage and energize their people, generate new ideas, and dramatically improve business performance.

Ken Blanchard said, "This might well be the best management book you ever read." We hope it is. It is certainly a different management book. It wasn't written by academicians, former chairmen of the board, or polished public relations professionals. It was written by street-smart people who, because we have lived it and learned it the hard way, have a compelling story to tell. Perhaps that's why people who have read And Dignity for All tell us they "couldn't put it down." We hope you also have a compelling experience as you read this rags-to-riches story and learn about a better way to lead.

Jim begins his career as a sweeper in the factory and ends it as a vice president of the $20 billion corporation. We hope you laugh and cry and feel Jim's emotion as you enjoy his wonderful story. He spares no detail as he reveals the personal highs and lows of leadership. You'll get it all -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. This self-taught man is forever watching, listening, trying, failing, and learning as he travels from the factories in Peoria and Cleveland to Japan and Mexico and back again to Peoria where he first began. It is here where he and you will learn the biggest lesson of all -- that when you focus on people, business results happen.

Yes, cultures of achievement can be created. This book tells you how. We wrote it for those of you who want to go to work every day and feel worthy, appreciated, and able to make a difference. We wrote it for workers who seek a way to preserve their jobs and help their company succeed. We wrote it for the people of Caterpillar who proved that values work and want to keep them alive and strong. And finally, we wrote it because business ethics aren't just right -- they produce the right result. Jane Converse

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2003

    And Dignity for All: Unlocking Greatness with Values-Based Leadership

    At last a book that truly embodies the American Dream! Jim DeSpain has lived the life and walked the walk, and here in his book, he talks the talk. It's refreshing to read a book about business that has quite a different philosophy than the greed that is such a hallmark of the American business culture and which threatens long-term American prosperity by tearing down corporations rather than building them up, brick by brick, starting with the bricks and mortar that are the everyday personnel that DeSpain focuses on. Perhaps it's beacause of his background, working his way up from the shop floor and not forgetting where he came from, that gives DeSpain his understanding that the American Dream is for everyone, not just for the few. His philosophy, which eschews greed, is based on the simple tenet that when one benefits, we all benefit. This utilitarianism, if practiced widely, just might save the American, America-based corporation from extinction.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    And Dignity for All: Unlocking Greatness with Values-Based Leadership

    I came across this book while visiting the Peoria area on a business trip and read it during my stay (it was probably the most constructive thing that came out of the trip). I found the book to be very valuable and have urged other managers at my company to read the book. Somehow over the last five years the idea of quality circles and the empowerment of employees has been forgotten and replaced by a system more focused on boosting the bottom line by letting employees go rather than turning them into profit centers that add to the bottom line. Bravo to Jim DeSpain for sharing his story and reminding us that it is PEOPLE that need to be the focus of corporate strategy, PEOPLE that need to be the first concern of managers. Focus on PEOPLE, as Jim DeSpain reminds us, and the profits will follow.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2003

    Incredibly interesting and a genuine look at corporate life

    James DeSpain and Jane Bodman Converse's "And Dignity for All: Unlocking Greatness with Values-Based Leadership" proved to be an incredibly interesting book about corporate life as it tells the story of an hourly employee who worked his way up off the shop floor to become the vice president of a major manufacturing company. I found the personal aspect of this book, Mr. Despain's own story of his struggles up the corporate ladder, especially his not always pleasant relations with the workers he left behind and his fellow high-level executives, to be a breath of fresh air. I mean: this book is really readable! What I like about this book is it's not some puff-piece about some pampered and overpaid C.E.O., obviously ghostwritten by a fawning, and well-compensated, member of the New York financial press. In these times, what with all the scandals that have decimated the reputation of many firms and sent the stock markets roiling, it's great to read the story of a second-tier senior executive, a vice president who came up through the ranks; this man is real, and his story is real. This story is more illuminating because it is rooted in a reality that all of us who have toiled in the corporate world can understand. This book is a must read in these new economic times. James Despain's story, for my money, is far more genuine than that of some fat-cat C.E.O. trying to cash in yet again, after seducing stockholders and bamboozling his board of directors, by trying to hoodwink the reading public with insincere, prefabricated prose. James Despain's story takes you right into the guts of a corporation and the working world. You can actually FEEL what it's like, like as if you were reading a good novel. In summary, this is one of the best business books I have read in a long time, and business journalism is my bread and butter. I was happily suprised by this book and heartily recommend it to ANYONE, even those not particularly interested in business. It's that good.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)