Editor’s Note: At the Center for Values-Driven Leadership, we are curious about how leaders face the challenge of adapting their mission, vision, or values. Company founders and senior executives often find the organization’s mission, for example, was fundamental to the organization’s previous success – but may not be what the company needs to move into an even greater future. In this post, Tom Carmazzi, CEO of Tuthill Corporation, shares his own journey of the humility required to rethink Tuthill’s mission.
In 2006, we created our first “Vision & Mission.” We called this document our Vision, Mission, and Brand statement. Or as it fondly became known: “VMVB.” Over the next nine years, we weaved our VMVB into all our processes, from our strategy, to our job descriptions, and to our appraisals. Our VMVB, also was holistic in that it focused on the company AND it called us forth to “have a seismic impact on our world.”
I loved this document so much, I stood in front of our employees and anybody else who would listen and said, “if I ever leave this company, I am taking this with me.” Well guess what? I have not left the company and we have enhanced this document. The word “enhanced” is very important. Now the rest of the story.
As we breathed the VMVB into our business and our lives, there was periodic feedback that it was too wordy, lacked clarity, and it was difficult to see a personal connection. I viewed this feedback as “unaware” and “shortsighted,” because I thought the VMVB was “edgy,” ahead of its time. Accordingly, I forged ahead, continuing to profess my allegiance.
In 2014 we began to explore our “why” beyond having a “seismic impact on our world.” There was a continuing undercurrent that the VMVB lacked of connection. We hired a consulting firm to help us find our “why.” After some digging we found it. As the owner of the consulting firm said: “the fruits are in the roots.” What had been our foundation for 125 years was the heart. Tuthill had always focused on the original pump, the human heart. No accident, we make pumps, so the connection was too obvious!
With our “why” clearly defined, I thought we were finished. Guess what? We were far from finished. Jay Tuthill, the owner, asked a question, “How will the VMVB change?”
As soon as I heard the question, alarms began ringing loudly in my head and thoughts such as “over my dead body!” were telling me this was a BIG mistake. Nonetheless, because of my deep trust in Jay, we began to explore the enhancement of the VMVB. I was firmly attached to the current version and Jay was eager to create something different, and yet much closer to who we really were.
How we made this change is not important. What was important, as CEO, was the following:
- I had to change before the VMVB could change. I had to see my blindness to the future was really due to my attachment to today.
- My countless hours promoting and integrating the VMVB had created an “investment” in my head, that blocked my heart from seeing it was time.
- I had integrated my integrity into this document and consequently from this place, I feared if I supported any changes I would label myself a liar and therefore no longer have the integrity needed to lead Tuthill. I feared no one would trust me.
- Yet, I knew this evolution was not only natural, but required, for me/us to achieve our potential.
- And finally, I was not alone in supporting the VMVB: powerful people throughout the corporation felt the VMVB should stay. To convince them, I had to first convince myself.
Today, we have enhanced our VMVB into a powerful, 5-point document we call the COMPASS. It is being embraced more and more each day because our folks can clearly see it represents who we are as an organization.
As I stood in front of those same people to whom I had professed the benefits of the VMVB, I confessed, that I had to let go of my attachment, and my ego, and leap into my heart. I accept the challenge, laid down by the COMPASS, to live a life full of Curiosity, Clarity, Grit, Grace, Gratitude, and Love (our values), knowing full well that the last three were the biggest challenge of all for me.
So in closing, I am curious if any of you are in a similar place, maybe not with your companies Vision or Mission, but maybe with something else important in your life? As woman shared with me after one of our presentations (outside of Tuthill), “After 30 years I am going to quit my job, because I have been just surviving, and I want to come alive and thrive. Thank you!” Her courage gave me courage to stay the course.
As we say in our Purpose: “When we come alive, the world comes along.” She had just confirmed that statement through me! Simply amazing the COMPASS had brought me to a place I had not felt before! Maybe there are places like this in your life as well!
Tom Carmazzi is the CEO of global pump manufacturer Tuthill Corporation. Find more from Tom at these links: