David Bianconi uses collaboration to help Progressive Medical succeed Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2010

David Bianconi is not afraid to ask for help. The founder and CEO of Progressive Medical Inc. has no trouble admitting that every once in awhile, he is faced with a problem that offers no easy answers.

“I gather my team around here, and I say, ‘You know, I’m struggling with this. I need your help. I can’t do this alone,’” Bianconi says. “I don’t try to assume all of the burdens of the day-to-day activities on my shoulders.”

More often than not, Bianconi has been able to work with his team to find solutions to problems and keep his business growing. The 500-employee company was launched in 1986 as a provider of electromedical and other durable medical equipment.

It has continued to expand its portfolio and Bianconi credits his team’s ability to work collaboratively as a key factor in that success.

“A leader doesn’t just take a group of people and lead them somewhere or someplace,” Bianconi says. “The real goal of a leader is to create other leaders and have a succession of other leaders all the way on down the path. Ultimately, the person at the bottom of the ladder, they have to lead themselves.”

Bianconi says helping others grow is not always the easiest thing to do. It’s much easier to just issue a command or a directive and hope your people can figure out what you want them to do.

But that’s not showing leadership and it’s not putting your company in a position to grow.

“Whatever the leader does, he must have an ability to show those that he is leading that he has their best interest in mind,” Bianconi says. “The goals are the goals of everyone, not just the ones of a few or of one individual.”

If you stay focused on your people and their growth and their skill development, when you come to them with problems, they’ll probably have an idea on how to fix it.

“People want to feel included in the plan, not kept in the dark,” Bianconi says. “They want to feel like their opinion matters and that what they do really counts and that they have an input in the future of their lives as well as the lives of the people around them. When you can instill that in people, that whole message, you’ve just created an unbeatable team.”

You need to always be aware of what you’re doing to either develop or hinder your team. Hopefully, you’re doing more of the former and less of the latter.

“You never know at what moment something impactful is going to happen,” Bianconi says. “So you always have to prepare yourself and live your life from the manner that you are always doing what you feel is in the best interest of everyone. There will be moments that will be impactful on individuals where you will have no idea that you’re having that impact. But that’s the job of a leader: to stimulate and lead.”

So why do so many leaders slip into that mode of trying to be the czar of everything who operates from an ivory tower? Is it ego? Maybe a little, but Bianconi says it’s probably not out of a desire to grab more power.

“We have a tendency to feel that every problem requires a solution, and it doesn’t,” Bianconi says. “We also have a tendency to feel that when we do have a problem, we have to solve that problem immediately. That’s not true either.”

When you have a close working relationship with your team members and you involve them in the process of running your business, you can have a healthy conversation to see if a problem is truly a threat.

“Trying to provide a solution to a situation that will ultimately go away, you can ultimately make it worse than if you did nothing at all,” Bianconi says. “Sometimes the solution is to just let it run its course and it will find its own way to solve a problem.”

Bianconi and his team have clearly shown good judgment in knowing which problems to solve. Progressive Medical has received numerous awards over the years for the company’s growth, its service and its standing as a great place to work in Central Ohio.

By keeping his focus on his people, Bianconi is hopeful that will continue.

“Your job is the people that you lead,” Bianconi says. “Everything else comes secondary. Sometimes people get those backward. They think the business comes first, and the people come second. If you take care of the people, they will take care of the business.”

How to reach: Progressive Medical Inc. (800) 777-3574 or www.progressive-medical.com