WBE Wisdom: The Powerful Impact of Servant Leadership and Open Book Management

This #WBEWisdom post is part of a series from members of the Host Committee for the 2018 WBENC National Conference & Business Fair, coming up June 19-21 in Detroit. Today, Lynn Perenic, CEO & President of Argent Tape & Label shares her take on two life-changing management styles and how using both in tandem could help improve your business.

Read more about the Host Committee, as well as more details from Lynn and how she prepare is preparing for this year’s National Conference & Business Fair


The Powerful Impact of Servant Leadership and Open Book Management

By Lynn Perenic, President & CEO of Argent Tape & Label


Stereotypical though it may be, women are synonymous with style. As women business leaders, whether our personal style is that of designer suits and shoes, or laidback footwear and jeans, we each have our own style of managing our unique companies of vested employees who work toward a shared goal. Our varying management styles characterize and define our organizations’ cultures.

Like stiletto heels, quick, clear and to the point, autocratic senior managers, particularly those in need of a quick result, make all the important decisions with no involvement from workers. Conjuring up your more supportive footwear, making sure the whole body is not worse from the wear of the hike, are the paternalistic managers. They are concerned about the workforce as a whole and the social needs, making decisions through two-way communication and after consulting with the troops. Democratic managers motivate their workers by allowing them to make their own decisions, but just as walking barefoot is risky if you do not see a stone or a piece of glass in your path, mistakes and errors ensue when workers are not skilled and misstep in their decisions.

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Famous footwear aside, one approach that has gained traction in recent years is Open Book Management (OBM).

“Open Book Management is a way of running a company that engages employees in making money. People learn to understand the economics of the business. They track and forecast key numbers. They figure out how to move those numbers in the right direction, and they share in the rewards of better performance.”*
Simply, people gear up and run the race. Companies register “as much as a 30% increase in productivity and profitability in the first year alone, when they implement the [OBM] approach properly.” *

But shoes come in pairs -- there’s a right and a left. If OBM is the right shoe, then “servant leadership,” another important management concept, can be the left shoe.

Nearly 50 years ago, Robert Greenleaf wrote “Servant as Leader,” suggesting that leaders that engage in servant leadership are servants first. They have a desire to help and “initiate activities that will enable their co-workers and subordinates to achieve their full potential.” **
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The impact on a women-owned business lacing up the OBM and Servant Leadership pair can be powerful! Employees working under these management styles are more likely to be more engaged and work harder for their company. When employees have a stake in the outcome of the company for which they work, they are more likely to set higher personal goals, to have more feelings of stability in their lives knowing their position is secure, and are more likely to examine and solve issues, rather than jumping to a quick fix. Moreover, customers and the community all benefit from such an empowered, enthusiastic and well-equipped team.

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Customers considering several companies with similar business value will often choose the company that provides emotional gratification. A customer who feels connected to your business feels confident you are looking out for their best interests. They are confident purchasing from you and are more likely to remain loyal.

The community also benefits because community involvement is woven into the fabric of the OBM corporate culture by encouraging employees to spend time volunteering and donating to charitable organizations.

You can strut in stilettos, traipse in your tennies or kick it in your clogs, but giving thought to how you assess and manage your financial and human assets is key in your journey.  

To find out more about these revolutionary and life-changing management styles, you can visit the following websites:

A few books we recommend:

*(Case, J. and Fotsch, B. 2017, July 25 published. The Business Case for Open Book Management. Retrieved from www.forbes.com.)

**(Winkler, L. “Lavon’s Corner” Fall 2017, page 1)


About Lynn Perenic


Lynn Perenic started her career as a teacher in the Hazel Park School District; where she taught elementary and special education high school for 20 years. She holds a B.S.Ed. and MAT.

In 2010, Lynn took over Argent Tape and Label, and hit the ground running. At that point the business had been mismanaged and was on the verge of collapse. Lynn attended many business seminars, took classes, and read a mountain of books to help guide her in resurrecting ATL. She decided the only sensible way to run a business was to “Open the Books." Using The Great Game of Business as a model, the company is once again a profitable organization. ATL has since had astonishing growth and produces for automotive, health, food and beverage markets, and more.  Employees are engaged in all aspects of the company, including business planning. In 2016, ATL team members signed off on the plan to purchase a Domino Digital N610i, which has allowed ATL to produce vibrant, high resolution products, while dovetailing with their strategic plan for growth.

Argent Tape and Label has won many awards since the acquisition in 2010, listing among them are top 50 Businesses to watch in MI, The All Star Award (2x) for being the best of the best in businesses practicing Open Book Management, Crain’s Cool Places to Work and was a finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year award. Lynn’s persistence and dedication to excellence has ATL poised for continued success for many years to come.


Posted on May 31, 2018 and filed under WBE Wisdom, Guest Post.