I recently watched a documentary about Fred Rogers, the beloved host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood who taught countless lessons to millions of children. One of his most notable was geared toward parents, when he recalled advice his mother gave him while watching news coverage of a traumatic event: “Look for the helpers.”
The lesson was that we should remind our children that, in times of disaster, we can always see — and find comfort from — those who are willing to help, whether it’s public servants, volunteers or just friendly faces willing to lend a hand.
But I don’t think disaster should strike before we choose to look for the helpers; they’re all around.
In day-to-day bakery manufacturing, helpers can be anywhere, from inside the R.&D. lab or the machine shop to the plant floor or the c-suite. You might say I’m talking about leaders … perhaps. “Leader” is a complex term and one that’s often reserved for a person in charge.
But there’s a difference between being a leader and being in charge. I’m talking about servant leadership.
When I think of servant leadership, Daniel Servitje, chairman and chief executive officer of Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo, comes to mind. As the third member of the Servitje family to hold this position in the world’s largest baking company, Mr. Servitje has an opportunity to carry on the company values set by the founders while creating sweeping change in the company and around the world.
I recently visited Mexico City to present Grupo Bimbo with Baking & Snack’s first-ever Sustainability Award, in celebration of excellence in sustainable practices through its four pillars: Wellbeing, Planet, Community and Associates. During my visit, I learned about the 2020 Vision and Grupo Bimbo’s purpose to build a sustainable, highly productive and deeply humane company.
I also realized the belief Grupo Bimbo holds that everyone — every person, every product, every plant — has the potential and responsibility to make thoughtful business decisions and do good for the people and communities it serves worldwide.
Two weeks later, Mr. Servitje participated in the American Bakers Association’s NextGen Baker panel discussion, where he was asked about his leadership style. Without hesitation, he responded, “That is not for me to answer. That’s a question for Grupo Bimbo associates.” In my opinion, true leaders lead from within, not from above.
Leaders are, innately, helpers.
In the pages ahead, I hope you find lessons from Grupo Bimbo and Mr. Servitje on the possibility of building a viable business capable of making positive and lasting change for the future. To make that kind of change, you’ll need to look for the helpers. As Mr. Rogers said, “If you look for the helpers, you’ll know there’s hope.”
Oh, and don’t forget to be one, too.
This editorial is from the October 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire issue, click here.