When Mark Labourdette was named Big50 in 2001, his company, GGHR Inc., revolved around him. He thought there must be a better way to be in business, without being the business. “It really was personal. I wanted to get up every morning and make breakfast with my little girl and take her to school,” he says.

Labourdette's desire to create a company with an accountability culture led him to hire consultant Greg Neil of Gregory Neil Associates. Neil helped Labourdette appreciate that although the company owner was his business' biggest asset, he was also its biggest liability. The consultant first worked with the production supervisor and employees, establishing a set of measures for success and areas for improvement. The employees would then report weekly on their jobs. “It just blossomed from that,” Labourdette says. “People were stepping up and taking responsibility for their jobs, being accountable and being excited about it. They loved me not running the show.”

The consultant then moved on to the company's other departments. While letting go of “command and control” hasn't been easy, Labourdette says he's happier, and GGHR Inc. has never been more successful. “When you empower people and communicate in a clear, effective way, it's amazing how people will step up.”