Business Strategy

4 Studies in ROCC-Star Leadership

star leadership

How do you make a lasting impact right away in your job, the kind that can lead to dramatic turnarounds and build billion-dollar businesses that have thrived for decades?

The leaders I’ve worked with over the past 25 years have done so by building what I call the ROCC of TrustTM: Reliability, Openness/Honesty, Competence, and Compassion.

I recently wrote about the ROCC of Trust, and wish to share four more examples of leaders who demonstrate one of (if not more) the components of the ROCC.

  • Reliability

When the current Chair of Two Men and a Truck, International, Melanie Bergeron, assumed the presidency of the company, she worked tirelessly to ensure that all franchisees maintained the value of the brand for the entire company by focusing on delivering highly Reliable moving services. As a result of this and other efforts, the company can boast of a 96% referral rate from their customers and 60 straight months of growth. It is now a $400 million-plus business from an initial investment of $350 in a used truck.

  • Openness

Through radical Openness and transparency, Owner and President Ted Castle has built a multi-million dollar food business, Rhino Foods, that is a key supplier to Ben & Jerry’s. Employees are trained on the basics of operating the business, kept up-to-date on the operating performance of the business, and empowered to develop and implement ways in which to improve the bottom line, sharing in the financial success at the same time.

  • Competence

By developing a trust-based culture focused on Competence, GM executive Bob Lintz turned around a failing plant in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He helped make it a billion-dollar success story in an industry rife with fractious labor relations and dozens of plant closures. Bob’s leadership efforts have contributed to an almost ten-fold improvement, hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings, and quality improvements that have been more than a thousand-fold.  General Motors has demonstrated its faith in the facility by investing more than $120 million in improvements and upgrades since 2009.

  • Compassion

Dennis Quaintance and his partners at Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels have built a culture of trust by regularly demonstrating Compassion to its 650 employees, resulting in a highly successful and innovative enterprise with $35 million in annual revenues. When they had to close one of their Lucky 32 restaurants, employees were given advance notice, retention and longevity bonuses, and the opportunity to apply for jobs elsewhere in the company, practices exceedingly rare in the brutally competitive restaurant and hotel industries. It’s no surprise to me that the firm built the industry’s first LEED Platinum facility as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

I call these individuals ROCC Stars not because of their fame, which continues to grow, but because they have built lasting success based on a foundation of trust with their employees, customers, and suppliers. As a result, they have created tens of thousands of jobs, built organizations that are industry leaders, and have generated wealth that has enriched their employees and communities across the U.S.

About the Author

Aneil Mishra is the Tom Arthur Distinguished Professor of Leadership at East Carolina University.  He works with executive teams and organizations around the world in the areas of trust, leadership development, and entrepreneurship, and publishes widely on these topics. His most recent book is Becoming a Trustworthy Leader. Learn more at or @drmish