There were some stories coming out about the Market Basket grocery chain that made it sound like the popularity of Artie T. was a little overblown but after watching a news clip on his return to one of the grocery stores, that doesn’t appear to be the case. There were lots of hugs, handshakes, pats on the back and one employee saying Artie T. was the best boss he ever had. What’s great about the entire Market Basket episode is the leadership story that came out of it. The story describes what can happen when there is strong leadership in the workplace.
I’ve been doing a little research on workplace leadership and, unfortunately, there is a shortage of it. Many workplaces are quite concerned about their future because of the lack of potential leadership. There are so many changes occurring within the workplace itself, the concern is how will the organization survive if there aren’t leaders to help maneuver the twists and turns.
Going back to the Market Basket example, a major change almost occurred and without the strong leadership Artie T. provided, the chain was doomed. There was no other leader to take Artie T.’s position. What is good, Artie T. was such a strong leader he created a work environment where everybody worked together to help each other out – including Artie T. Even Artie T. expressed that in the news clip, “…we try to be good to one another and help each other out and be wind at each other’s back…”, (wcvb.com, Sept. 1, 2014) That’s why employees worked hard to get the shelves restocked when Artie T. came back and it also explains why the grocery chain is so successful.
In the video clip, it shows Artie T. working on Labor Day, thanking everybody for their support. He shakes hands with both employees and customers. He gives hugs and it truly is obvious he treats everyone the same. Not only that, Artie T., like everyone else working at the grocery store on Labor Day, was also working. In another article, Artie T. is asked if the profit sharing will remain the same given the amount of debt he had to take on to buy the chain from his cousin. He replied he was “unwavering” in his support. It is another example Artie T. shows how much he values the employees of Market Basket and the work they do.
While the nice profit sharing is part of the motivation for employees, it’s not all of it. The bigger motivator is Artie treating everybody the same, treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve. Treating everybody as equals or everybody plays a role in strengthening the organization. That’s what being a leader is about. For those concerned about the lack of leadership in their organizations, they should find people to follow the lead of Artie T.
This doesn’t have to be just a management problem. It can be important within a union structure, too. No matter the organization, strong, supportive leaders yield positive results. Sometimes those in a leadership position have a problem making the change because it’s too threatening or they’re afraid they will lose control. That’s where members or organizations become worried about their future. Risks have to be taken. The employees at Market Basket took a risk when they walked out for their favorite boss. If they can do it, so can those in leadership positions.
Arthur T. Demoulas and Market Basket is a case study in leadership. Workplaces, managers and unions should study it.
The links for the video clip and the other article are below. We also have a video on leadership. Visit the CALMC channel on YouTube and listen to our joint leadership webinar.