OAC Services, Inc. (OAC) might not be a household name, but its proud tradition of excellence in design and construction-related projects dates back to its founding in 1955. The Seattle-based firm has weathered many economic storms over the past six decades and evolved to meet the demands of the changing marketplace. And by all accounts, OAC has always had great people, provided great services, and had a healthy financial bottom line.
Yet, Shawn Mahoney knew something was missing.
So he formed some committees, and that solved everything.
OK, not exactly. But, surprisingly enough, committees were a big key in making some dramatic internal changes that have taken OAC from a company its leadership team knew was great to one that’s also now recognized by employees, clients, and outsiders for excellence in its culture and its services.
Mahoney, one of seven principals who jointly manage the firm, recognized a need several years ago for an organizing framework that would help everyone understand and see the cultural and operational keys to OAC’s success. If OAC employees better understood and acknowledged the reasons for their success, he reasoned, they would be less likely to take that success for granted and, in fact, could grow even stronger.
My frustration as an emerging leader was that it was one thing to say internally that we had a great culture, but if we weren’t showing it, we had a problem,” said Mahoney, “To grow our enterprise, we needed to identify our foundation and our soul.”
Mahoney knew OAC needed to define its mission, vision, and core values, and align around the strengths of its culture. He had no idea what framework to use, however, or how to create it. Then he heard Steve Farber speak about Extreme Leadership and the model known as LEAP – Love, Energy, Audacity, and Proof – and he immediately knew, “it fit perfectly with OAC.”
Looking at OAC today, you’d think the company took a head-first leap into LEAP. It has adopted a version of the Extreme Leadership mantra as its vision statement and turned the LEAP components into its core values. As a result, employee surveys indicate a dramatic increase in employee engagement and satisfaction, customer loyalty is at an all-time high, and the company has recently ranked #2 in the state of Washington on Seattle Business Magazine’s prestigious 100 Best Companies to Work For list and earned several other awards from within its industry. (See the list at the end of this report).
What’s perhaps most fascinating about OAC, however, is how it successfully adopted LEAP. Mahoney didn’t return to the office and order framed LEAP posters to hang the lobby or start plastering LEAP propaganda across the OAC website and marketing materials. In fact, the transformation didn’t happen quickly or without resistance, but with a patient and organic approach that convinced nearly everyone in this already great company that it could be exponentially better – if only it would take the LEAP.