Category Archives: Strategy

Deconstructing Leggett’s DNA: The Way We Lead

The Way We Lead cover image with Icon

Families display certain common traits and behaviors, generation after generation, that have nothing to do with genetics. These non-genetic markers are passed down through shared perceptions, beliefs, and actions, as surely as hazel eyes and curly hair. The same is true for companies.

At Leggett & Platt, we recently set out to revise the competencies in our annual performance review, and accidentally found ourselves deconstructing our corporate DNA. We started the project with 15 competencies – things like strategic thinking, decision making, interpersonal skills, and communication. Instead of simply trying to whack a few that seemed less important, we started with a clean sheet of paper and our company history book. Looking back over 130 years, our leaders displayed certain common qualities, no matter what the business challenge of the era. When we distilled this “Leggett DNA,” we found eight key qualities that drive our collective success. Eureka! These characteristics, expressed as actions, reflect our culture and the way we lead.

A member of the Leggett team: Continue reading

Sometimes the Entire Strategy Needs to be Reconsidered

Board Chairman & CEO David S. Haffner

Board Chairman & CEO David S. Haffner

For four full decades—from the 1960’s through the 1990’s—Leggett & Platt achieved growth of 15% per year (on average) in earnings, dividends, and stock price, largely by pursuing a strategy that focused intently on revenue growth. Over those 40 years revenue ballooned from $7 million to $4.3 billion, earnings grew about 1000‐fold,and our stock split approximately every 5 years. But as we entered the new millennium, our strategy seemed to lose its effectiveness. For the five years ending December 2007, Leggett & Platt’s stock priced moved sideways while the S&P 500 index achieved an 80% return. The desire for topline growth had led us to make certain acquisitions for which it’s now clear we paid too much, given their failure to meet expected performance levels.

We needed to make a change in strategy.

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