Value Your Most Important Asset – People

Chris Henson, chief operating officer of BB&T, had his fair share of life lessons growing up. Raised by a hardworking, single mom, Henson took on responsibilities well beyond what’s expected from most middle school and high school children. It taught him a lot about how to succeed and lead. It also taught him you can’t accomplish much on your own.

“I had to take responsibility pretty early in my life,” Henson said. “My circumstances certainly convinced me of the merits of drive, hard work and decisiveness. But they also taught me the importance of valuing the people around you. It became clear there was a connection between treating people right and success. Listen to your team, support them, be sensitive to their interests, and you’ll earn their help and commitment in return.”

Chris Henson, COO, BB&T

Chris Henson, COO, BB&T

 

 A Clarifying Event

One event in particular has always reminded Henson how important it is to treat people fairly and how the culture of the organization where you work affects you.

“Early in my working life, I worked for a manufacturer that had a very task-driven culture,” he said. “Their objective was to consistently increase productivity. I was a floor supervisor, and I had an employee whose productivity had been lagging for several days. I found out his young child had been ill, which required him or his wife to be with the child constantly. Both he and his wife worked, so they had practically no time to sleep.

“After seeing the employee’s production numbers decline for several days, my manager told me I had to fire the employee,” Henson continued. “I explained the employee’s situation and his good work record, but my manager said if he couldn’t make his numbers he had to go. I decided then to leave the company because its values and mine were incompatible. Having your values aligned with the company you work for is critical to success and, ultimately, your happiness.”

Soon after that, Henson found a company that did share his values: BB&T.

“When I came to BB&T and began to work with my new co-workers and managers, it felt like the right place to be,” he said. “I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to articulate why in my first few years. But as a leader, when I introduced new associates to BB&T and explained our vision, mission and values to them, it became clear to me why being here felt so right.”

Showing the Passion

Henson believes when the vision and values of leadership align with the company’s vision and values, those leaders are able to bring passion to their roles. Associates see that passion and it encourages them to emulate that effort. When that same passion is evident to clients, they’ll appreciate it and reward your organization with their trust and business.

“The benefits come because the values are sincere,” Henson explained. “This isn’t an intellectual exercise. You can’t just decide to be passionate about something you don’t really embrace. Working with a business or a cause you believe in is critical to being a strong leader. It’s also critical to personal fulfillment.”

Serving Those Who Support You

Henson’s leadership and passion are apparent through his long history of community service in the various cities and towns where he’s lived and worked.

“Part of being a leader is giving back to your community,” he said. “Good leaders take their responsibility to friends and neighbors to heart.”

Among the many community efforts and causes he supports, Henson chairs Winston-Salem’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. The effort, a government-business-nonprofit collaboration, has a noble but daunting mission to house and provide support services for the chronically homeless in the Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, N.C., area during the course of 10 years.

“What ultimately convinced me to take on the role was learning that one in five homeless individuals in our area are veterans,” Henson said. “These are people who put their lives in harm’s way so we can all feel safe and find success. I felt I needed to do what I could to repay them for their commitment.

“We needed to find or develop almost 600 housing units to help address our chronic homelessness need,” Henson continued. “I’m proud to say we have already created more than 670 units, far surpassing our goal ahead of schedule.”

bbt-perspectives-chris-henson-habitat-for-humanity

Henson working on housing for the homeless with other BB&T associates.

Good Deeds Attract Good Employees

Henson believes having strong values and being a good corporate citizen are part of a virtuous cycle.

“While giving back is the right thing to do, it’s also part of what brings good people to us,” Henson said. “Smart, passionate, hardworking people appreciate the opportunity to support worthwhile endeavors. When they see a business that operates with those principles, they want to stay.”

According to Henson, being a leader at an organization like BB&T improves your chances for success and happiness.

“Our philosophy really perpetuates our success and helps me succeed as a leader,” he said. “We have bright, committed people who believe in our mission. They develop new approaches and products with the same values and principles in mind. That improves our efficiency and benefits our clients and shareholders.

“I enjoy going to work every day,” Henson continued. “I believe in what I do and in my organization. I’m confident in the people who surround me. I learned a long time ago the only way you succeed is by working together.”

Value Your Most Important Asset – People

Chris Henson, chief operating officer of BB&T, had his fair share of life lessons growing up. Raised by a hardworking, single mom, Henson took on responsibilities well beyond what’s expected from most middle school and high school children. It taught him a lot about how to succeed and lead. It also taught him you can’t accomplish much on your own.

“I had to take responsibility pretty early in my life,” Henson said. “My circumstances certainly convinced me of the merits of drive, hard work and decisiveness. But they also taught me the importance of valuing the people around you. It became clear there was a connection between treating people right and success. Listen to your team, support them, be sensitive to their interests, and you’ll earn their help and commitment in return.”

Chris Henson, COO, BB&T

Chris Henson, COO, BB&T

 

A Clarifying Event

One event in particular has always reminded Henson how important it is to treat people fairly and how the culture of the organization where you work affects you.

“Early in my working life, I worked for a manufacturer that had a very task-driven culture,” he said. “Their objective was to consistently increase productivity. I was a floor supervisor, and I had an employee whose productivity had been lagging for several days. I found out his young child had been ill, which required him or his wife to be with the child constantly. Both he and his wife worked, so they had practically no time to sleep.

“After seeing the employee’s production numbers decline for several days, my manager told me I had to fire the employee,” Henson continued. “I explained the employee’s situation and his good work record, but my manager said if he couldn’t make his numbers he had to go. I decided then to leave the company because its values and mine were incompatible. Having your values aligned with the company you work for is critical to success and, ultimately, your happiness.”

Soon after that, Henson found a company that did share his values: BB&T.

“When I came to BB&T and began to work with my new co-workers and managers, it felt like the right place to be,” he said. “I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to articulate why in my first few years. But as a leader, when I introduced new associates to BB&T and explained our vision, mission and values to them, it became clear to me why being here felt so right.”

Showing the Passion

Henson believes when the vision and values of leadership align with the company’s vision and values, those leaders are able to bring passion to their roles. Associates see that passion and it encourages them to emulate that effort. When that same passion is evident to clients, they’ll appreciate it and reward your organization with their trust and business.

“The benefits come because the values are sincere,” Henson explained. “This isn’t an intellectual exercise. You can’t just decide to be passionate about something you don’t really embrace. Working with a business or a cause you believe in is critical to being a strong leader. It’s also critical to personal fulfillment.”

Serving Those Who Support You

Henson’s leadership and passion are apparent through his long history of community service in the various cities and towns where he’s lived and worked.

“Part of being a leader is giving back to your community,” he said. “Good leaders take their responsibility to friends and neighbors to heart.”

Among the many community efforts and causes he supports, Henson chairs Winston-Salem’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. The effort, a government-business-nonprofit collaboration, has a noble but daunting mission to house and provide support services for the chronically homeless in the Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, N.C., area during the course of 10 years.

“What ultimately convinced me to take on the role was learning that one in five homeless individuals in our area are veterans,” Henson said. “These are people who put their lives in harm’s way so we can all feel safe and find success. I felt I needed to do what I could to repay them for their commitment.

“We needed to find or develop almost 600 housing units to help address our chronic homelessness need,” Henson continued. “I’m proud to say we have already created more than 670 units, far surpassing our goal ahead of schedule.”

bbt-perspectives-chris-henson-habitat-for-humanity

Henson working on housing for the homeless with other BB&T associates.

Good Deeds Attract Good Employees

Henson believes having strong values and being a good corporate citizen are part of a virtuous cycle.

“While giving back is the right thing to do, it’s also part of what brings good people to us,” Henson said. “Smart, passionate, hardworking people appreciate the opportunity to support worthwhile endeavors. When they see a business that operates with those principles, they want to stay.”

According to Henson, being a leader at an organization like BB&T improves your chances for success and happiness.

“Our philosophy really perpetuates our success and helps me succeed as a leader,” he said. “We have bright, committed people who believe in our mission. They develop new approaches and products with the same values and principles in mind. That improves our efficiency and benefits our clients and shareholders.

“I enjoy going to work every day,” Henson continued. “I believe in what I do and in my organization. I’m confident in the people who surround me. I learned a long time ago the only way you succeed is by working together.”