Setting the Tone for Communication

By Chuck Gault, Max Coating President

At Max Coating, we have a lot of honest, hard-working employees. They’re also intelligent and experts at what they do. That’s why it’s important to me that they feel they are able to speak with me, no matter what the issue. But where do employees get their willingness to communicate?

From the leaders of the company, of course.

Jim Collins wrote a book called Good to Great. In the book, he talks about what several successful companies have in common. How it’s one thing to be good, but how do you get to great? One of the key components of his concept is a “Level 5 Leader.”  According to Collins, a Level 5 Leader “builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.”

I don’t really consider myself a Level 5 Leader yet. But some of my personal traits are that I’m easily accessible, open and honest. I think I’ve developed these skills over the years and it’s had a positive impact on my employees’ willingness to communicate.

I make it known that I want them to be able to speak their opinion. A lot of people don’t know this, but sometimes all you have to do is ask. Because we’ve always taken the time to simply ask employees their views, the transparency has been there since day one.

Employees at all levels of the organization know if they need me I’m there and willing to listen to what they have to say. I believe that has helped promote the sort of openness that not only allows, but encourages, communication. It’s important to remember that as the leader of the company you’re setting the tone and vision for your entire organization, whether intentional or not.

My actions speak loud to my employees, and that is something I never let myself forget.


Birmingham, Alabama-based Max Coating is a leader in the metal finishing industry and provides electrocoating and powder coating services for automotive, industrial and agricultural manufacturers. Learn more at