Inc Column Names Area Leaders as World’s Top CEOs

Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, culled together a list of the top 10 CEOs "who walk the talk of servant leadership."

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Dallas-Fort Worth area CEOs are getting some recognition as being models for servant leadership. 

In a column written for Inc., Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, culled together a list of his top 10 CEOs “who walk the talk of servant leadership.”

Brittany Merrill Underwood, founder and CEO of Dallas-based Akola; Harold MacDowell, CEO of Dallas-based TDIndustries; and Melissa Reiff, CEO of Coppell-based The Container Store, all landed spots on the list. Outside of the top 10, Schwantes named a few “honorary mentions,” including Michael Williams, president and CEO of Plano-based Community Hospital Corporation. 

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Michael Williams

At No. 5, Underwood was the highest-ranking Dallas area CEO. She describes her nonprofit jewelry line as a “full impact brand,” meaning steps throughout the production process have a social give back element.

“Underwood is a clear example of a servant leader practicing conscious capitalism to transform the lives of impoverished women and families,” Schwantes wrote. 

In fact, Akola provides work and training for impoverished women in Uganda and Dallas and invests 100 percent of its profits back into its mission. Last fall, it launched a high-end luxury line with Dallas-based Neiman Marcus to help it better provide a living wage to area women. 

MacDowell came in at No. 7 on the list for his dedication to maintaining a culture at TDIndustries where employees are “valued, respected, and appreciated.” Schwantes points out MacDowell’s commitment to communication. 

“He has set up formal and informal feedback mechanisms to get important and open feedback, a practice started by founder Jack Lowe, who used to invite groups of employees to his home for spaghetti dinners,” Schwantes wrote. 

Rounding out the North Texas mentions was Reiff at No. 8. Reiff took over for The Container Store’s founder and longtime CEO Kip Tindell last July. Since then, she’s continued the company’s dedication to “conscious capitalism,” Schwantes wrote. She also ensures every employee stays well informed, something the company refers to as “communication is leadership.” 

“Underwood is a clear example of a servant leader practicing conscious capitalism to transform the lives of impoverished women and families.” 

Marcel Schwantes

“In even simpler terminology, they strive for every single employee in the company to know absolutely everything,” Schwantes wrote. 

While this can be a daunting undertaking for any company, The Container Store firmly acknowledges the power behind this principle on its website, which states ‘nothing makes someone feel more a part of a team than knowing everything has been communicated to them. We know that some information we share could fall into competitors’ hands, but the advantages far outweigh the risks.'”

Read what else Schwantes had to say about DFW area leaders and see what other CEOs made the list here


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