Bob Larson is the president of Reynolds Food Packaging, an industry leader in the production and sale of a full range of stock and custom products for the foodservice, supermarket, food processor and agricultural markets. He was also recently elected to the board of directors for Five Talents International, an organization that is fighting global poverty through microfinance and education.
Since 2009, Larson has supported Five Talents by fundraising and speaking on behalf of the organization in the Chicago area. In May of 2009, he traveled with Five Talents to Kenya and Uganda as part of a Business as Mission team, where he taught business skills seminars to entrepreneurs. Dan King, social media community editor for HighCallingBlogs.com, traveled with Bob on that trip, and recently had the opportunity to catch up with him to talk about the high calling of his work and fighting poverty.
What has your leadership role at Reynolds taught you the most?
In order to be successful you've got to unleash the full potential of the people in the organization. It's impossible for an organization to succeed unless you do that. You need to have a clear strategy and mission in terms of where you're trying to take the business, and then make sure that you've communicated that well. You provide clarity of roles and responsibilities, then empower people to perform and hold them accountable for results.
What has your faith taught you about leadership in an organization like Reynolds?
I bring a certain set of values to my work, but I don't hang them at the office door when I walk in. It also, I think, has to do with treating people with dignity and respect. Sometimes I've got to make some tough decisions about people and whether they can continue with the organization, and when I do it in a respectful way—allowing them to maintain dignity—I think that's the most important thing. And it's also how I treat not only employees, but also other stakeholders in the building.
I like what you just said, and going back to how you talked about setting a clear vision and empowering people …. That's exactly what Jesus did. He set the vision with his disciples, and then sent them out and empowered them by saying, "Now you go do as I did."
Absolutely! That's a good point! What's the expression? You're not a leader unless someone's following you, right?