Insights & Perspectives

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Is Your Organization Recognizing Excellence?

Often overlooked, and rarely praised. frontline leaders across the U.S. manage 80% of the workforce. Now is the time to thank them for their accomplishments.

Written by Beth Miller, published in the Fall 2015 issue of LEAD Magazine

Greg Bartley, a frontline leader at Value Added Packaging (VAP) in Clayton, Ohio, is described as a quiet, shy and humble man. However, in the past few years Bartley has slowly transformed himself and his team at VAP as he reluctantly assumed the role of frontline leader. Bartley came to VAP in hopes of soon quietly retiring — he wanted to come into work, do his job and go home. Mari Wenrick, Chief Champion of Culture at VAP, recognized Bartley’s talents early on and was insistent that he take on a leadership position. Reluctant but willing to take on a leadership role, Bartley’s outlook on his job and career took an unexpected turn for the best. “It was through the evolving of our collaborative team culture and the focus on the value of each team member that trust was built from both the team members and Greg,” says Wenrick. “He then stepped up and was truly invested in his leadership role because he felt valued and had something to share and pass on.”

In 2014, Greg Bartley was recognized as one of the first recipients of the Fearless Frontline Leader Awards. “Frontline leaders are responsible for about 80 percent of company employees,” says Rich Cary, Run Improve Grow ® leader at Definity Partners, a leading business consulting firm helping people in manufacturing leadership positions to achieve substantial and sustainable results. “Employee retention and engagement reflects on the effectiveness of the leaders. They often shoulder more blame than they receive recognition.”

In support of frontline leaders, Definity Partners is proud to sponsor the Fearless Frontline Leader Awards being held October 20th at Great American Ball Park. “It’s important to celebrate the leaders in your organization who dedicate each day to keeping the company running smoothly,” states Cary.

Bartley was one of the recipients in last year’s inaugural award ceremony, Wenrick nominated him. She explains how nominating one individual can have a positive reaction for a company’s entire culture. “It’s essential to validate employees and tell them what they bring to the organization,” says Wenrick. “This award encourages other leaders to step up and make a difference with their team members, customers and the community.”

Bartley describes how the nomination and being honored has affected him. “It showed me the owners of VAP actually care about their employees — when they tell me I’m doing a good job it makes me want to work even harder.” He describes the sense of accomplishment he receives in the frontline leader role, as that of a teacher. “I like to stand back, see them learn and master the job,” Bartley says. “Then I can feel good about passing something on to someone else.”

Cary explains that Bartley’s initial hesitance is part of what made the nomination so compelling. “He reluctantly took the frontline leader position and made it something entirely different, based on the mutual respect and trust of his team members.”

In some aspects Bartley reminds Cary of Mike Stilwell, the inspiration and legacy behind the Fearless Frontline Leader Award. Stilwell was also hesitant to be in a leadership position, yet flourished in the role at Norris Screen, and ultimately transformed the business. In 2013, Stilwell passed away, leaving behind a tremendous legacy. “What a tragedy to wait until someone is gone to truly recognize their impact,” says Cary.


Cary was was so moved by the untimely passing of his friend and co-worker that he drove to West Virginia to film a tribute video with testamonials from Stilwell’s co-workers, friends and family. “The Fearless Frontline Leader Award is an opportunity to honor leaders now, and these are the people who normally don’t get much recognition. I can honestly say that being involved in last year’s program was one of the highlights of my career.” As for Bartley, he continues to lead his team with his fearless disposition and is encouraged to see that other organizations are joining in the quest to promote and acknowledge their frontline leaders and the teams they represent.

For more information about the Fearless Frontline Leader Award, visit
VAP is located at 44 Lau Parkway, Clayton, OH 45315. You can reach them at 937.832.9595 or visit their website at

Topics: Frontline Team Development

Written by:
Beth Miller