Tim gets it. He knows you are only as good as your team. It is no accident that Gibson routinely ends up on Indiana’s annual list of “Best Places to Work.” I love that he’s got the guts to write a book about it. It is a great read.
Former Governor, State of Indiana
A fascinating, true story of a leadership journey done right. Tim Leman shares his lessons with remarkable clarity and humility. If you could read only one business book this year, this is the one to read.
Co-Author, Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision and Leading at a Higher Level
An honest and introspective description of a leader’s growth and maturation. This book will benefit leaders – wherever they might be on their personal journey – in their quest for improvement.
President, Indiana State University
Tim Leman has given leaders a gift in this book. Rarely do we get such a humble, raw glimpse into the sausage-making of leadership and business.
Best Selling Author, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Advantage
Tim Leman has done a remarkable job of recounting the story of his own leadership journey in the crucible of the rEvolution that ignited Gibson’s growth. Readers will be captivated by the well-told stories of the countless challenges and opportunities that Tim and his leadership team have weathered since the world of business has turned itself upside down over the last decade. But even more riveting are the episodes of great strife and missteps that Tim reveals about himself in the process of transforming himself into a better and better leader. With candor and conviction, Tim Leman generously shares his well-earned insights into what it takes to be a leader who operates out of the upper limits of potential. Bravo Tim, your book will inspire leaders everywhere to find in themselves the ingenious, unstoppable determination that you so clearly demonstrate.
Kathy Cramer, Ph.D. – Founder and Managing Partner, The Cramer Institute
Author: Lead Positive: What Highly Effective Leaders See, Say, and Do (Jossey-Bass, 2014)
Leadership is an incredible, defining force in business – one with the potential to create distinctive organizations that deliver on their promises every day. In rEvolution, Tim Leman and Larry Linne take their many years of experience building and leading successful organizations and lay out the essence of effective leadership. New and experienced leaders will benefit from their advice about the importance of adapting leadership styles in response to prevailing market conditions and circumstances, articulating and continually driving toward a clear, shared vision, and inspiring talented people to be their best.
Fred Eppinger – CEO/Director/President, Hanover Insurance Group Inc.
Some quotes just keep making more sense to me. For example, over 50 years ago I heard a Jewish Rabbi open a conference on eliminating prejudice with the quote, “Blessed is the nation that has no history!” Everyone laughed, but nervously. We all knew that it would be impossible to have a nation with no history. Yet, we also knew what he meant. It is usually a lot easier to start up an enterprise than to adapt an existing one to a new environment. Tim Leman takes on this issue in his insightful book about his leadership role at Gibson, the insurance and risk management advisor in South Bend, Indiana. In less than a decade, Tim has led a 75 year old, successful formerly family-owned business that was ill equipped to grow in the modern, competitive environment to become a flourishing employee-owned company. The book humbly tells the story and identifies the tools… listening, a participatory culture, clarity. These are the tools to rework history well!
Thomas J. Harvey, MS – Director, Nonprofit Excellence Program, Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame
Tim is one of the rare leaders who can dig just a little deeper into bringing insight into impactful change. rEvolution is a great open kimono look into creating a sustainable culture in today’s rapidly changing business environment. You owe it to your team, investors and yourself to read and implement the lessons that Tim and his team share.
Ron Kitchens – CEO, Southwest Michigan First
Gibson has emerged as one of the nation’s fastest growing, most innovative agencies. In rEvolution, Tim Leman explains how this firm, battered by the economic downturn, took the difficult steps necessary to become an industry leader. By focusing on clarifying its vision of long-term independence, Gibson is a great example for other firms who believe independence is worth fighting for.
Kevin Stipe – President, Reagan Consulting
Today’s business climate is unlike any before. The very survival of organizations, and entire industries, has never been in greater question. And, there may be no industry in greater peril than that of the independent insurance agency. Regardless of your industry, Tim Leman provides an inspirational story that demonstrates how, in times of their greatest challenges, the greatest leaders step forward and lead their organizations to their greatest days. rEvolution is a must read for any leader ready to shoulder the burden of organizational greatness.
Wendy Keneipp & Kevin Trokey – Partners, Q4Intelligence
Rarely has a book about leadership captured the personal struggles, business challenges, philosophical insights and hard-won management lessons the way rEvolution does. Tim Leman’s odyssey at Gibson distills the wisdom of dozens of leadership textbooks into a practical primer on how to lead through chaos and frenetic change. With ingredients from Welch, Collins and Lencioni, Leman’s play-by-play account of turning his company around illuminates the critical importance of courage, clarity, collaboration and culture, in a compelling narrative that every aspiring leader will find fascinating and invaluable.
Jim Clark – CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of America
As I read rEvolution, several leadership themes became apparent. This story illustrates how key they were to Gibson’s success navigating through challenging times.
Keep up the great work! And by the way, I’m keenly aware of the importance of a supportive spouse as well.
Craig Johnson – CEO, FCCI Insurance Group
As I began to read Tim’s book, the scenario he was describing had the makings of a predictable outcome…the slow disintegration of an agency or, as so many agencies are today, the sale of the agency; not as attractive target of one of the aggregators, but as a victim of their success, collapsing under the weight of their inability to manage the organization they had become.
It is a story on humility, determination, leadership and communication that preserved an American Dream. The once tiny agency, from a tiny town now thrives as an organization that has adapted to a changing insurance world, but also has maintained the original values that had always been the glue that held the organization together and enabled its success. Tim and his team’s journey can serve as an inspiration to any agency leader, or the leader of any business, to face the challenges of changing generations and a changing world to become, not victims, but beneficiaries of their success
JF Scherer – EVP & Chief Insurance Officer, The Cincinnati Insurance Company
Despite the pace of change, the technology shifts, and the cultural changes, the heart of all successful businesses is the level of trust reinforced and reinvigorated across employees, customers, partners, and suppliers. Tim Leman’s new book, rEvolution, tells the story of how leaders can go through the journey of evolution and revolution within their own companies and emerge successful. More than just a corporate history, the book provides a first person account and lessons learned in leadership.
R “Ray” Wang – Founder & Chairman, Constellation Research, Inc
Tim Leman provides a fresh approach to leadership that positions the organization to be of service to its people, its customers and the community. This approach puts the needs and desires of stakeholders front and center and allows people to feel proud of delivering exceptional effort and performance while significantly increasing levels of engagement.
Jim Canfield – Chief Executive Officer, Renaissance Executive Forums
Leading a successful business that has been consistently recognized as a “Great Place to Work,” Tim Leman knows how to create an environment conducive to professional and personal growth. As Millennials assume leadership positions in the private and public sectors, the insights in rEvolution could not be more timely. Tim Leman has provided a blueprint for navigating today’s changing world and a good read for successful leaders of the future.
Pete Buttigieg – Mayor, City of South Bend, Indiana
About The Book
rEvolution is a true, must-read story of a leader’s transformation as a first time CEO into the head of a thriving professional services firm. rEvolution provides personal insights and practical guidance on how to utilize a business crisis in order to bring about change, evolution, and growth. This book makes the case for leaders to be committed while they carefully examine their own defects, adapt to the changing times, and include their team in the process…no matter how hard things get. Above all else, rEvolution demonstrates that a leader’s key challenge is to drive organizational clarity through actions and language.
The Letter That Started It All
From: Leman Tim D.
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 2:57 PM
Subject: “An Open Letter to My Fellow Partners”
I write this letter while admittedly only being at Gibson for about 18 months and a partner for a mere 5 months. The message I heard from Friday’s stockholder meeting was that we are doing pretty well as an organization and we are having a decent year – on par with or better than last year. Where we’re having difficulties, they are for the most part out of our control. I may be in the minority, but I don’t think we are doing well. And I don’t think we either realize this or are willing to admit it.
I’ve have seen first hand many of the issues that organizations just like ours face. And I’ve seen it from a number of different perspectives in a number of areas around the country. I ask you to consider with an open mind the points I make below. The easy thing will be to dismiss them (pick the reason). The harder thing will be to reflect and be honest with ourselves and our organization.
We need to be more agile. One of our strengths as a small, closely held company should be our ability to react swiftly to challenges and opportunities. We should be quick and nimble, outflanking the “big boys”. We have essentially taken one of our greatest assets off the table.
Our value proposition seems a little stale. Do we provide a unique service or resource? Do we have special industry experience that can only be found at Gibson? If our value proposition is not winning consistently enough against our current competition, what is going to happen when the competition improves?
We are inwardly focused and intoxicated by our past success. Do we know how we stack up versus today’s competitors? How are we being sold against, and what is driving our competitors’ success?
Too many in our organization undervalue how we got to where we are at. We have become openly disrespectful to some of our salespeople. We need to stop the notion that every deal is a robotic transaction that will come to fruition with the right script or policy and procedures manual.
We have the culture of an insurance agency versus a sales organization. Are we an insurance agency first, that needs to sell things once in a while to survive? Or are we going to be a professional sales organization, first and foremost; and what we sell just happens to be risk management advisory services?
We have a top down approach to management. Input from key individuals is not sought in the early stages of formulating important new initiatives. As we continue to groom and look for the future leaders of the organization doesn’t it make sense that we begin to seek their input early on? Why wait until they’re a manager or a partner to push them for input. Creativity and passion spurs growth. Are we taking advantage of this?
We need to have the courage to confront. Stating the truth and providing constructive feedback is not mean. It’s necessary. We must begin to hold ourselves and others accountable.
We need to settle the issue of perpetuation. We’re in a state of suspension as an organization. We’re not going anywhere (which means we’re going backwards). We are lacking a clear vision of the future. The questions of organization, leadership and talent perpetuation needs to be settled. It’s not just a matter of trying harder or needing more time.
We are on the threshold of a crisis. I truly believe that if we don’t decisively act upon these key issues in short order, we will set into motion a series of actions that at best will not keep us independent.
I love this place. I really do. And like many of you, I gave up a lot to come here because I believe in what we can become. I am concerned and I think we are at a crossroads. We do not have time to dwell on this. We must passionately implement and execute on a new way of doing business.
I am not a fan of letters like this that point out areas to fix without offering solutions. I have been thinking about this almost since I came to Gibson and I have some ideas that I’d like to throw on the table for discussion and action. But before that happens, I want to know how YOU, my fellow partners feel. Are we ready to admit we have some serious issues? Do we have the courage and conviction to separate what needs to be done from a business standpoint from our personal feelings? Are we ready to pay the price it’s going to take for the ultimate reward? I am. I hope you are, too.
Tim D. Leman
Vice President, Employee Benefits Division
GIBSON INSURANCE GROUP
…Strength against RiskSM