Leveraging People and Profit: The Hard Work of Soft Management

What’s an “Altrupreneur”®?

Bernie Nagle has been a student of “engagement” in the workplace for nearly 40 years, primarily in manufacturing environments, either as an executive or as a consultant.  He is also co-author of the book, Leveraging People and Profit: The Hard Work of Soft Management, where he coined the term “Altrupreneur”.

Leveraging-People-Profit-Altrupreneur3Nagle describes an “altrupreneur” as one who conducts the affairs of an enterprise with conspicuous regard for the welfare of others, builds communities that produce value for all the organization’s stakeholders. This new breed of leader responds to the needs of the organization and the demands of people coming to the workplace and marketplace.  The manager who can balance the people and profit factors has the best chance of succeeding in tomorrow’s corporation.

MeritShare co-founder Travis Pearl first connected with Bernie on Linkedin and recently conducted this interview.

Tell us about yourself?

I have both experienced and observed the phenomenon of engagement as an employee, manager, senior executive, consultant, author, speaker, business owner, and facilitator.  

I started consulting back in 1995, after 22 years in the Food Industry, when the company I worked for was acquired. At that time I was VP Manufacturing for a $2.0 bil. company, responsible for 7 plants  Instead of moving to Europe with the acquiring company, I took the “package” and went to outplacement. It was at that point I decided to begin writing my book and go out on my own.  After consulting and speaking on my own for a period of time, I was recruited by PriceWaterhouse Consulting and I worked for them until I was recruited by one of their clients to lead a global business process improvement initiative in 13 locations in 9 countries.  

Break it down for us Bernie

 My experience has taught me some simple truths about people in the workplace:

  1. The vast majority of people are fundamentally good; they want to do a good job, improve and grow

  2. Everyone is really good at something

  3. The greatest motivator in the workplace is believing at the end of the day that what you did made a positive difference

  4. People and Profit are not mutually exclusive business choices

Enlightened leaders know these truths intuitively and act accordingly, with integrity and respect.

Why did you start your consulting/training company – what is your mission?

My mission was then, and remains today, “Ubertas per Beneficium” (Abundance through Service).  My goal is to establish a covenant mentality of mutual service in the workplace, through whatever means of evangelization is at my disposal.  My most fervent wish is to get back to being able to support myself financially doing this work full-time as an independent operator or as part of a larger training/consulting firm.

Explain the meaning of “Altrupreneur” – how did you establish that term and what does it mean to you?

The word, Altrupreneur ®, is an improbable union of the words, “Altruistic” and “Entrepreneur”. An Altrupreneur ® is a transformational leader who understands a simple, underlying principle of human nature:

“Engagement, trust, loyalty, and followership, are inspired by the leader’s willingness to value and serve ‘the other’.”

I wanted to create a word that communicated a workable middle-ground meld of the attributes that make for a successful entrepreneur, as well as those of a genuine altruist.  These were the traits I had observed in successful manager/leaders who had the ability to truly engage people in the workplace and elicit discretionary effort, innovation and enthusiasm.  These special leaders had keen business sense and a nose for the bottom line, and at the same time, were people of high integrity, uncommon empathy, and genuine concern for the welfare of others.  In other words, they held others in “high regard”; hence the frequent references to the creation of a “high regard” work environment.

If you had to provide three leadership principles around servant leadership, one sentence each, what would they be?

Leadership Principle #1   Leadership exists only through the voluntary gift of follower-ship

Leadership Principle #2   The gift of followership is given for their reasons, not yours

Leadership Principle #3   You can neither know nor engage their reasons unless by your actions you embody a spirit of humility, respect and service for others


Your website states that Altrupreneurs ‘create “virtually free” new sources of Competitive Advantage in a sustainable world, please explain?  

The lack of engagement in the workforce has been demonstrated repeatedly in study after study.  It is no longer an area of speculation, with some studies estimating as high as 70% to 80% of the workforce actively disengaged.  This group falls into the “quit and stayed” category.  It has been my contention, as I stated emphatically in my book nearly 20 years ago, “the greatest waste of assets in all organizations is the untapped creativity and innovative energy of an engaged workforce.”  Your competitors may outspend you in every asset category, but they cannot buy, nor can they match the creativity and innovation of a team of energized workers.  That enthusiasm and innovative energy cannot be forced it cannot be coerced and it cannot be bought…it must be led.  People do things for THEIR reasons, not yours.  The enlightened, servant leader is uniquely able to connect with the workforce where THEY are, with an interest in THEIR needs, and ignite that enthusiasm and innovative energy on behalf of the organization.  This is the next frontier in sustainable competitive advantage.

What are the most important traits, attributes for Enlightened Leadership?

  • Integrity

  • Humility

  • Regard/Respect for others

  • Competence

  • Optimism

  • Communication

  • Enthusiasm

What companies do you admire the most?

There is a company (literally a few miles from where I live) I recently got to know, and had a chance to interview the president, Stuart Watson.  The company is named Truline, and they make bearing housings for super high-tech applications, like aircraft fuel pumps.  Stuart and the company owner have created a Servant Leadership culture as genuine as any I have ever witnessed in the last two decades.  When I was researching my book,  I had the privilege to speak to some of the giants of the Servant Leadership world, like Max DePree, Herb Kelleher and Art Wainwright, and I will tell you this company is no less impressive. 

bernie

We thank Bernie for his time, insights and advice.

If you would like more information on Bernie, please visit his website  Altrupreneur.com