Not sure any of you saw this in the Sunday New York Times, but I found the article about “Bench Strength” very interesting. The interview was with Sharon Napier, CEO of Partners+Napier, an ad agency based in Rochester NY. It’s obvious Sharon is building an engaged organization. I resonate with her on a number of different levels. Sharon’s values and beliefs about people and the roles they play in her company are similar to mine. As a sportswoman in high school and college, she likes to use sports metaphors in her organization. She references the experience students have of being a star in high school, then being the 9th player in college. While this may be difficult for some to digest, the point of her sports analogies is that everyone on a team has a role, and each role has a specific purpose. People must be clear about their purpose on the team so that they can step up, but also so that the team can realize its potential.
Secondly, Sharon names family as one of her key corporate values. We both come from Italian heritage and “la famiglia” is an important aspect of life. It assumes a certain loyalty, sticking together and compassion and caring for family members. Growing up in this culture creates a sense of belonging, appreciation and being valued for all involved. Transferring these values to the workplace helps create engagement. I am sure Sharon, like myself, has had to clarify family as a value statement for those who have not had a positive family upbringing.
Lastly, Sharon is a woman business owner. Having served on the Board of the National Association of Women Business Owners and President of the NYC chapter, I recognize that many women are comfortable with their feminine energy and can bring the universal feminine into the workplace. Having received an MBA in her mid-forties, much of Sharon’s business acumen has been developed over her lifetime. My hunch is Sharon can draw from the strength of her energies to successfully manage her business. A model for all of us to consider in pursuit of building engaged organizations.