Chuck Frank leads by example at AHS Featured

8:00pm EDT March 26, 2008

Chuck Frank said it’s vital

that you lead by example

and that employees must see that you’re willing and able to do the work yourself.

“You have to ask yourself, if

you are going to ask others to

do it, would you do it yourself,

and would you be able to do it

to the best of your and the

company’s abilities?” says the

president and CEO of AHS, a

$34 million full-service provider

of materials handling solutions

with nearly 50 employees.

And he says the things that

you ask your employees to do

must be realistically achievable, and you must be there to

support them.

Smart Business spoke with

Frank about how to deal with

the challenges of leading by

example and how to do so

without stepping over the line.

Q. Is there a system to

leading by example?

There is a process you have

to go through. You have to

understand what you are asking of others and put yourself

in a situation and determine

how it’s going to affect others.

Is it going to be in their comfort zone or out of their comfort zone? Do we have the

resources, the ability, the skill

set? There’s a lot of thought

and preparation that goes into

any task or initiative that we

put out for ourselves or for

our associates.

There’s a lot of thought, a

lot of prework. A lot of,

‘How’s this going to affect us

12, 18 months, three years

down the road? How is it

going to affect my personal

and professional goals?’

I put a tremendous amount of thought into making sure that

what’s being asked is realistic.

Q. Has leading by example

ever backfired by setting

unrealistic expectations?

Only in the fact that I think

people can accomplish an

awful lot, and sometimes, I

think people can accomplish

maybe more than they think

they can accomplish. If I put

myself into that situation and

say, ‘You know, it seems reasonable to me. It seems like

something I can do; it

seems like something I

can achieve.’

Perhaps I don’t take

into consideration the

individual that’s being

asked. Maybe they are a

little different than me.

Maybe it’s kind of something that is a passion of

mine but not a passion

of theirs.

As I’ve progressed in

life, I’ve come to the realization that obviously

not everyone has the

same goals and same

drive that I do. As the

owner of the business,

you’ve got to factor in

human nature.

Q. How does setting

the example help the company?

People realize and understand that if they are being

asked to do something

because of the process that we

do follow, that they don’t have

to ask the traditional questions

of, ‘Would you do it?’ Or

they’re not behind the scenes

or talking to other associates

saying, ‘They keep asking me

to do these things, and yet

they don’t do them.’

They understand that if they are having an issue with it, if

they have a client situation

that is going to be difficult, I’ll

be glad to sit there, I’ll be glad

to go do it, I’ll be glad to do it

myself. So I just continually

say, ‘I’ll be there for you, I’ll

support you, I will do it, and

it’s the right decision.’

Q. Have you ever stepped over

the line between leading by

example and micromanaging?

I’m very cautious about that.

We have others we have >empowered to be in a position, and it happens probably

less and less because, again,

earlier in my career, I probably would have done it more


But the realization is, you

can’t empower people, ask

them to do something, and

they go about doing it their

way and, if you disagree, you

go to their direct reports and

say, ‘Hey, I know you said to

do it this way, but this is the

way we’re going to do it.’ You

lose credibility with your

leadership team. You lose the

confidence in them having

confidence in yourself.

Has it happened? Yes. But

again, it’s a conscious decision to make sure that every

day I am thinking about making sure I’m not doing that.

Q. What are your tips for a

leader looking to be a role

model to his or her employees?

You have to ask, ‘What are

we asking; what is the task at

hand?’ I’m a big believer in

that you have to have a goal.

You have to have the expected outcome, and then you

have to have short-term goals

to get to your long-term


You have to have action steps

to accomplish your goals. It

has to be date-sensitive, then

you just have to make sure

it’s moral, ethical, it’s done

with integrity, and it’s for the

betterment of the organization and, ultimately, the betterment of our clients. If you

ask those questions and you

listen and you explain and

you have a plan, it works.

What’s most important is to

hold yourself accountable. If

you say you are going to do

something, do it. If you are

going to set a date, meet the


HOW TO REACH: AHS Inc., (513) 351-6500 or