What is a Blue Collar CEO? (and why I love it)

January 5, 2011 • blue collar ceo

When you think of the term ‘blue collar CEO’ what picture or description comes to mind? I have to admit, the first thing that popped into my head was Larry the Cable Guy on Celebrity Apprentice trying to explain to Donald Trump why pigskins on a stick was a viable business idea. After further deliberation, the idea of the ‘blue collar CEO’ started to resonate with a much clearer picture of who that might be and how it fits in today’s business environment.

It’s not about the title. I think it’s safe to say that everyone loves a power title. Titles are very important in any organization or culture. But… people want more than just credentials. Our clients and team members expect more than just a drumbeat from us when things are bad and more than a company parking spot when things are good. CEO’s are leaders and blue collar CEO’s aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and their hearts moved. Remember that for later.

It’s all about the team. I know that is a completely overused phrase in life today, but it still rings true for any CEO or leader who wants to build something larger than themselves or their corner office. Ken Blanchard said it like this, “In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people…they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.” Our job is to work with our people, leading by example, listening with open minds and leveraging their core strengths.

It’s still about your clients. It still amazes me how fast we all lose sight of what we are here to do and who we do it for. Our clients are the lifeblood of our business and yet so many times we look at them as annoyances or interruptions to our busy schedule. Blue Collar CEO’s understand and ingrain into the culture that client experience is job one and without clients we have no company. So back to getting hands dirty and hearts moved…maybe the Blue Collar CEO is really more of a mindset, a character trait if you will-hard work, a passion for people and a strange ability to listen before you lead. Now, where did I put my pigskins on a stick?