Rediscovering Redemption

Chronicling the work of Redemption in the lives of Followers and Leaders. Articles, research and meditations from the writings of Dr. Joseph J. Bucci. Get blog updates by following Joe on Twitter @Re_Redemption

Joseph J. Bucci

Redemptive Leadership Success Stories – 2

A redemptive approach to terminal employee behavior and non-terminal noncompliant conduct seeks to provide future opportunities for employees by the commitment of leaders to their employees.  The challenge for employers is in not taking employee offences personally but as signs of immaturity, and working with firmness, trust and patience to restore them to fully productive members of the workforce.  So potential cost savings in terms of reduced turnover, reduce hiring costs, less destructive effects from deviant behavior and limited potential damage from wrongful discharge lawsuits could be linked to such a leadership approach.  One study supported the premise that if given the opportunity of being confronted with possible termination through a “last chance” meeting, an employee would take advantage of such a process and would respond in terms of improved individual behaviors as well as potentially having a positive impact on the whole group of immediately connected employees (Bamberger & Donahue, 1999).  Another study found that managers who demonstrated involvement and commitment to their workers, as well as managers demonstrating strong positive role models by establishing norms for behaviors while addressing terminal behaviors in a firm positive way had much more success curbing destructive workplace behaviors and the financial impact of such behaviors, including vandalism, fraud, sabotage and absenteeism (Appelbaum & Shapiro, 2006).  Since the estimated impact of the widespread theft of employees on the U.S. economy has been reported to be $50 billion annually (Henle et. al, 2005), the manager has the opportunity to not only gain greater employee loyalty through their demonstration of commitment, but the manager has the opportunity to reduce the cost of merchandise slippage, theft and other offshoots of terminal employee behavior as well as reduced turnover and greater productivity by utilizing a redemptive approach to dealing with terminal employee behavior.  Below are some examples of current business models in which these kinds of practices are demonstrated wand are working effectively.


Entrepreneur of the Year and successful businessman Gerald W. Chamales knows the value of a second chance, and the tough work involved in the redemptive process.  Mr. Chamales is himself a recovering alcoholic who worked his way into the executive suite from a life of poverty, welfare and food stamps.  Chamales knows what it’s like to be at the absolute bottom; and through his business pursuits Chamales not only reformed his own life, but now he also has the opportunity to help restore the lives of many of his workers.  Chamales is Chairman and Founder of Rhinotek Computer Products, a $45 Million business where roughly one-third of the workforce comes from halfway houses, work-furlough centers, and recovery programs.  “This is not philanthropy.  This is a sound business principle that started out because it was the right thing to do and now we realize it’s the smart thing to do” (Marchetti, 2005).  These employees are assigned a mentor and enrolled in a training program. There is rigorous follow up, but lots of determination due to the opportunity given when others would not take the chance.  Says Chamales: “You could say we recycle human beings.  Instead of giving them a handout, I’m giving them a hand up” (Pennington, 2002).


 In an organizational context, according to Tumblin (2002) these acts of liberating, ransoming and setting free release the mission of the organization through people who themselves are being developed in healthy ways.  According to Tumblin, it is more than the organization that is affected – all of society experiences the repercussions (Tumblin, 2002).  The very nature of redemption implies that the values and purpose lead the enterprise toward the social good. The intended outcomes are being accomplished according to stated values with maximum benefit to all constituencies. Thus, a redemptive organization as defined in this paper seeks to maximize value to the internal and external stakeholders while fulfilling the organization’s mission with excellence.  It creates leaders, systems, structures and activities that execute the values and purposes of the enterprise in (Tumblin, 2002).

John Shegerian is a CEO of a growing electronics recycling business.  He wants to open his next few recycling centers in rusty, neglected neighborhoods, which fits his reclamation philosophy, as does his drive to rehabilitate people as well (Brown, 2008).  One-third of Shegerian’s full- and part-time employees at Electronic Recyclers International are in its “second chances” program, which includes ex-cons and former addicts.  Shegerian’s own problems with addiction left him getting kicked out and later divorced by his wife.  He checked into a rehab clinic in Arizona, and a formerly successful investor  and entrepreneur lost everything.  But after he got his own life back on track an opportunity came up to help manage a struggling recycling business.  “I know the fragility of life,” he says. “It would be an absolute shame if I didn’t do something with this opportunity.”  He has been able to turn the business around, reunite with his wife, and remember where he came from by offering “second chance” opportunities to men and women with similar sordid pasts.  It so happens that these restored “recycled” workers have a 17% turnover rate, half that of other employees (Brown, 2008). 

Leadership is giving, a gift of oneself.  The essence of leadership is not giving things or even providing visions.  It is offering oneself and one’s spirit.  A leader’s quest is to give their gift (themselves) to help transform others (Bolman & Deal, 1995, p. 102). 

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