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Companies are often measured by stability and profitability, but top executives are responsible for much more than a positive balance sheet each quarter, according to Dan Tinker, president and CEO, SRS Distribution, McKinney, TX, in Culture as a Competitive Advantage.
They are also charged with driving company culture from inside the C-suite, says Tinker, who believes a CEO must also act as a CMO – chief morale officer – for the organization to achieve sustained success.
“My job is to make 3,000 people want to come to work every day,” Tinker says. “If that’s true, that will be much more meaningful than any strategy I could ever deploy to make more money or grow the company."
The distribution industry has seen a surge in discussions about leadership and culture. Industry events feature more keynote speeches on effective leadership and professional development seminars on building a strong culture. Trade and general business publications have boosted their coverage on each. Even respondents to our recent MDM Distribution Trends survey honed in on these topics as top business concerns.
And the importance of leadership grows during challenging times – such as during the Great Recession or, more recently, the sluggish period many distributors endured in the past 18 months – according to Henry Looney, president, United Central Industrial Supply, Bristol, TN.
“If (employees) see leadership scared, if they see in your eyes you’re scared, then it’s not going to be very good for them, so you have to have faith and confidence in what you’re doing,” he says. “You have to know that there’s an end result and that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and that we’re going to get there and we’re going to be better as we come out of it.”