You’ve likely heard of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company’s great leadership and humanity if you’ve been in the business for as long as me.
In 1857, the company was established in Janesville (Wisconsin). The young company moved to Milwaukee in 1859. They were incredibly proud of that year, both because they moved and because it was also the year they received their second claim.
Two Claims, Not Enough Money
A train ran from Janesville, Wisconsin to Fond Du Lac one day in 1859. The train was unable to continue as planned. There were 14 people killed, including two passengers with Northwestern Mutual policies. The accident resulted in $3,500 in total claims.
Northwestern Mutual faced a challenge when they had only $2,000 to cover their claims. The moment was crucial for the young start-up’s leaders, but they found the solution quickly. Charles Nash, the treasurer at Northwestern Mutual, and Samuel Daggett the president of Northwestern Mutual took out personal loans to cover the amounts they owed on both claims.
After they had paid their claims, new business began to flow in and the company took off. They were sought out by people who purchased life insurance policies. The company had already started to earn business in the Midwest by 1865 and was now expanding East.
Do the right thing
Leadership can be defined as a variety of qualities. There are many ways to define leadership. It is a fact that you only see it when you are there. Alternately you may also recognize leadership when you don’t see it.
Leadership is about doing the right things. This is an aspect that is often not talked about but is a key part of its DNA. In other words, a healthy dose if humanity. While Mr. Daggett received the claims, Mr. Nash worked hard to get things back on track, even though they didn’t have enough money. Important to remember that these men were able to borrow personal loans and not business loans. This means that they were responsible for repaying the bank money. They were acting on their human instincts. Others would not have done it and might have preferred to avoid being personally liable.
How many people are aware that leadership is demonstrated by having humanity in our actions and doing the right thing for others?
Everybody Can Do the Right Thing
Most people think of leaders as managers when they look around at the world. This was the case with Northwestern Mutual. The company’s president and treasurer, as well as its senior executives, were also its leaders.
However, we all have the potential to be leaders. It starts with committing to doing the right thing in difficult situations.
Every day offers us endless opportunities to show humanity, do the right thing and be a leader. We can inspire positivity and leadership by doing the right thing for others and ourselves. People will follow leaders if they see actions that are ethical. It is easy to see why. For millennia, people have heard many stories about doing the right thing. We are all conditioned to desire the best.
Your company might not have a top position, but you could be the boss. Regardless of your position, remember this simple truth: We are all human. There are many things that make us more alike than we are different. One of these characteristics is the desire for real, human leadership. This can be achieved at any time, in any situation.
Do the right thing next time you find yourself at a crossroads. When you make another turn, you will be able to make the right decision again. Then, do it again, regardless of the difficulty. People will regard you as a leader if you do the right thing and show humanity.