Presidents’ Day always reminds me of the contributions that leaders, including businesspeople, make to ensuring the success of their people. As a former Canadian citizen (and current proud U.S. citizen), I studied more Prime Ministers than Presidents during my time in school. I’ve always admired Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, who was held in high esteem for laying the foundation of Canada—much like George Washington is credited as the driving force behind the democratic foundation of the United States.
Both figures exemplify leadership in its truest form: taking responsibility and assisting others. At IWCO Direct, leadership means establishing goals and setting a direction for reaching them, then clearing the way so your team can achieve the desired results.
Leadership is a Team Effort
This requires transparent communications throughout the organization. We just finished a week of “Town Hall” meetings in which senior leadership shared the results of 2016 and our focus for 2017—with all 2,570 employees. It’s all about “team.” The number one rule at IWCO Direct is “We win as a team, we lose as a team.” We don’t like losing, but we always learn and share from both victory and defeat.
IWCO Direct also has a very entrepreneurial leadership style, with every leader given a lot of latitude in how goals are met, as long as the Company’s common goals are reached. We have created a flat leadership structure where the people responsible for results aren’t insulated from the teams actually doing the work and achieving those results.
This approach to leadership has led the IWCO Direct team to a number of quantifiable advancements over the years:
- We moved quickly to take advantage of opportunities to expand our production platform through the acquisition of Transcontinental Direct and the asset acquisition of the former DGI.
- We expanded our service offerings into Creative Services and Marketing Agency Services. This was led by a vision for what the company could become, not just what we were.
- We introduced Lean and Continuous Improvement initiatives as the focus of quality and efficiency enhancements. We did this by setting a vision, clearing the path, and putting control in the hands of those who are closest to the processes.
- We built a formal wellness practice, including safety initiatives, to ensure the health and well-being of our most valuable assets—our people. This meant knowing how to set appropriate priorities for our business.
- We inspired a commitment to environmental stewardship as part of IWCO Direct’s DNA. We took what had been a passion project for many team members and built a company framework around it to make sustainability an ongoing initiative.
Our Secret? We Don’t Do It Alone
Most of what is achieved at IWCO Direct is accomplished through interdisciplinary team efforts. Senior leaders observe the interaction of these teams and identify individuals who are passionate about the success of the team. These individuals are given additional responsibility and training and encouraged to take on new roles within the company.
In 1999, Frank Beddor and Jim Andersen had a vision for how three distinct companies could come together to form an integrated direct mail production engine. Since then, IWCO Direct’s leadership has been about forming a vision to see the next evolution of the company, the ability to make the (sometimes hard) decisions needed to get there, and the certainty that success is a team sport.
Forward motion is what makes IWCO Direct a leader in direct marketing, and our unique leadership principles keep us headed in the right direction.
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