Jim Campbell empowers people at Bridge Logistocs Inc Featured

8:00pm EDT September 25, 2008

Jim Campbell wants his

employees to be empowered. To make sure that they are, the president and

CEO of Bridge Logistics Inc.

says he and his partners —

vice presidents Jeff Campbell

and Paul Lanham — make

themselves accessible, which

is key to creating an environment of empowerment.

“It creates a comfort zone

and a sense of confidence within the employee base,” the

leader of the multifaceted third-party logistics provider says.

“We encourage creativity, and

we give them the latitude to

bring new ideas to the table.”

That environment has led to

fast growth at the company,

which more than quadrupled its

2006 revenue of about $2 million to about $9 million in 2007.

Smart Business spoke with

Campbell about how to create

an environment of empowerment and how to be more

accessible as a leader.

Q. How would you describe

your leadership style?

Pretty casual here. We make

ourselves very, very available to

our employees. There are days

kind of like this morning — we

were all three involved with

operational issues this morning.

We have open-door policies.

We do have some family working here. It’s very casual.

We are very accessible. I

think the three of us have

employees in our office bouncing ideas, ‘What do you think

about this?’ on a daily basis.

We encourage creative

thought here. We want our

employees thinking outside

the box in order to differentiate ourselves within our customer base and prospective

customer base.

Q. How can leaders make

themselves more accessible?

We’re not Procter & Gamble

here. We don’t have layers

and layers of management.

For these small to midsized,

even up to larger companies,

we think that the attitude

from the prospective

employee coming to work

here is so much different

than it was 20 years ago, and

we really try to cater to that.

We’re not big on titles here.

We’re not big on management

layers. You have to want to be

accessible to your employees.

We’re pretty relaxed

with these guys. We like

teaching here; we spend

a lot of time educating.

Every problem that

develops or logistics

challenge that develops

is an opportunity to educate our employee base

and empower them to

make decisions the next

time. No decision is the

wrong decision.

Q. How do you find

the right people to fit

into that culture of

empowerment?

It starts with the right

person. The interviewing

process — you’ve got to

pay particular attention

to the traits that the individual possesses — entrepreneurial spirit, team-oriented

type individual.

Our interview process here

typically goes in a few different interviews. It’s very rare

that somebody here gets hired

off the first interview. Do we

have a big, in-depth, structured interview process? No, but

what we do is each employee

typically interviews with the

three of us. We compare a lot

of notes. We often ask the

same questions very differently. We know what we are

looking for in that individual.

It’s a relaxed interview. It’s

not really an interrogation.

We want to get to know that

individual, the potential candidate. We want to really know

them, their likes, their dislikes, what they can bring to

the table, the way they perceive a problem and what

they would do to solve it.

Q. What is a pitfall to avoid

in leadership?

A lot of leaders today, they

tend to come in with the mind-set that, ‘It’s my bat, my ball,

my rules. You’re going to do

it this way. It’s my way or the

highway.’ I, as well as Paul

and Jeff, advise against that

because people are going to

make you successful or they

are going to break you —

one or the other.

You don’t want to (fit a)

square peg into a round hole.

Take advantage of the individual’s creativity. Take advantage

of their thoughts.

We just hired a young guy a

year ago that was a graduate

from The Ohio State University

with a degree in supply chain

and logistics management.

What am I going to do? Try to

jam him, all that education that

he acquired, try to jam a round

peg into a square hole with

him? No, we want him to bring

his thought process, new

thinking and forward thinking

to the operation.

Q. What are the keys to

leading change?

You have to have a direction.

In our case, the first step in

leading change is the management team has to buy in

to what direction you are

going into. You have to give

your staff the tools they need

in order for that change to

take place.

Once the management

team buys in to the direction

you want to change to,

you’ve got to get everybody

else on board and you’ve got

to make sure everybody is

stroking on the same oar. We

do that here again by getting

these folks to take ownership in the plan.

HOW TO REACH: Bridge Logistics Inc., (513) 874-7444 or www.bridgelogisticsinc.com