The Leadership Challenge – Chapter 5 – Part 1
Kouzes, James M. and Barry Z. Posner.
The Leadership Challenge
San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass, 2002. p109-22.
Envision the Future
What made the difference was the vision of how things could be
and clearly painting this picture for all to see and comprehend.
~ Mark D’Arcangelo, Hitachi Semiconductor America
I am driven by concerns for the legacy I am leaving my children.
~ Gail Mayville, Ben and Jerry’s
While working as an administrative assistant at Ben and Jerry’s, the ice cream company, Gail Mayville
became aware of a problem.
As a result of the company’s rapid growth, the ice cream waste from its
factory was overloading the local waste treatment plant.
In fact, as Gail put it, “If we weren’t able to find a
solution to that problem, we would have been in danger of actually having to shut the facility down until
we could figure out what to do with it.”
It wasn’t in Gail’s job description to do something about this
After all, she wasn’t the president, manufacturing manager, or environmental manager.
that didn’t matter to her.
Something very important was at stake, and it wasn’t just the factory or their
Having grown up on a farm in Vermont, Gail knew enough about pigs to figure they’d like to eat
the rich ice cream mix.
She boldly suggested to the company that it should buy some pigs, donate them
to local farmers, put the waste into barrels, truck the barrels out to the farms, pour the creamy liquid into
troughs, and see if the pigs would eat it.
The pigs loved it!
The immediate problem was solved, the factory wasn’t shut down, people’s jobs were saved, and
the company got some time to work on a more permanent solution.
As a result of her initiative, Gail was
appointed the company’s first environmental manager. She worked on other projects, and she became
an expert on recycling.
Her knowledge and experience grew to the point where other companies sought
her advice, and she eventually moved on to become an environmental consultant.
Gail’s actions serve as yet another example of how leadership is a relationship and how
leadership is everyone’s business.
The story serves as a reminder that it isn’t necessary to have a title to
take action on an important organizational problem.
It’s a reminder that visions come from relationships
with others, be they children, coworkers, or community.
Beyond this, it illustrates something about
people take action on a problem in the first place.
The risk of closing the factory may have been the presenting problem but a deeper, more
compelling force propelled Gail into action.
As she puts it, “For me, personally, I am driven by concerns
for the legacy I am leaving my children, the environmental legacy.”
Her driving force was her children.
She wanted to ensure that they would be able to enjoy a healthy and joyful life in the future.