Rick Howard: Re-energized Leadership

A number of years ago, Rick Howard found himself facing one health battle after another. First it was an aortic aneurysm; three years later, congestive heart failure; and eventually, a permanent pacemaker. Now, with a strengthened heart and a second chance at life, he wakes up believing each day is a gift and uses that perspective to inspire his team.

Upon starting his role as Plant Manager at Card Monroe Corporation, Rick noticed there wasn’t much of an emphasis on training and development. He was determined to change that.


“See the Future.”

“Engage and Develop Others.”

“Reinvent Continuously.”

“Value Results and Relationships.”


Those are just a few guiding principles Rick created for his team.

However, it wasn’t until one of his coworkers received an invitation to a WinShape Teams Leader Summit that Rick grew interested in partnering with an outside organization to help develop his training even further.

After attending a Leader Summit himself, Rick was “blown away.”

“I’ve (now) been to Lead Self and Lead Others, and it’s just the perfect fit for our strategies,” he says. “We’ve got two or three (employees) each cycle going to one of the Summits. We’re also using the field guides in-house.”

Through the training received from WinShape Teams, Rick’s coworkers say they’ve been able to gain practical skills they can take back and apply in the office.

“I took a lot away from the Leader Summit,” says employee David Howard. “It really impacted me on how to handle different circumstances on the floor.”

For Rick, one of the most eye-opening moments with WinShape Teams occurred when he and another WinShape employee, Lisa, participated in an exercise on the Giant’s Ladder. It was there that Rick and Lisa had to navigate a wooden structure that consisted of a series of steps at graduated heights.

“I had a little bit of doubt because of the physical nature of the heart issues,” he says. “Before we started I noticed a drive in Lisa. (Level) eight wasn’t going to be enough for her, and I knew it wasn’t going to be enough for me.”

By working together as a team and with support from those on the ground below, Rick and Lisa found themselves exceeding their goal and making it all the way to the top.

“There was a huge parallel between that challenge and the challenges in life,” Rick says.

Since his experiences with WinShape Teams, Rick’s focus and attention to each individual employee has changed. He knows that how they leave his office may affect how they deal with their family, and that’s a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.

Rick’s coworkers have noticed a difference in him too.

“His leadership doesn’t stop at the company,” says David. “His leadership outside of work is very impressive. What we say around here is, ‘you have to be willing to get down into the trenches,’ and Rick is that guy.”

For decades, Rick believed that the conventional leadership model of micromanagement was the only option. While he expected the best of himself, he never wanted to be the type of leader that was overly demanding of his team.

Because of WinShape Teams, he now knows there’s another way.

“Treating someone in a servant manner brings out, to me, the best in them. Collectively we can learn to work together to be the best we can be as a team.”

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