In 2008, global capital equipment manufacturer Barry-Wehmiller created an internal university, Barry-Wehmiller University, to help their team members become better leaders. The introductory course, Communication Skills Training, gave participants greater insight into their behavioral tendencies and how they interacted with one another. It taught them about attentive listening, the communications cycle, and effective confrontation. All of this, of course, was designed to help them become more effective leaders at work. The outcome, however, was a complete surprise! Time after time, graduates reported that the course was life-changing. While they agreed that what they learned certainly helped them in the workplace, the biggest impact from the class was felt in their personal lives. Many remarked about how it had enhanced their relationships with their spouse or their children, with some able to mend long-broken relationships or connect with loved ones for the first time ever!
Seeing the profound impact the class was having on team members lives, Cynthia Chapman, wife of Barry-Wehmiller CEO Bob Chapman, offered “We have to find a way to share this with the world!”
In 2010, Phillips LISTENS, Inc. was established by Bob and Cynthia Chapman to bring Barry-Wehmiller’s powerful and proven Communications Skills Training at no charge to communities for the sole purpose of “improving the fabric of our society.” (The name “Phillips LISTENS” was inspired by the city of Phillips, WI, the location of the first-ever Communications Skills Training taught to community members at-large.) Eventually, as the non-profit began establishing additional chapters, its name was changed to Our Community Listens.
Today, Our Community Listens is bringing its life-changing, community-changing training to a growing number of communities across the world. Additionally, Barry-Wehmiller continues to offer the course, now called Listen Like a Leader, to its team members. And, in 2015, BW Leadership Institute was established to partner with other for-profit organizations in helping them create people-centric cultures. Listen Like a Leader is part of a suite of courses it offers.