Introducing the Milliken Leadership Model

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing." —Peter F. Drucker

When it comes to defining leadership at Milliken, we like to keep it simple. In the words of Peter Drucker, leadership is doing the right thing. 

This year, we’re taking a look at what Milliken’s leadership principles are and we’ve refined our common leadership language to arrive at a new framework—the Milliken Leadership Model. We sat down with Craig Haydamack, Chief Human Resources Officer, to explore this new model and how it will advance our work to positively impact the world for generations.

How does Milliken define leadership?

 We feel ‘leadership’ composed of three core components:

  • At the center is a leader’s ability to deliver results for all stakeholders. This includes financial results for shareholders, as well as supporting the interests of Milliken associates, our communities, and our partners. Leaders recognize, understand, and deliver on this wide range of stakeholder interests. 
  • The foundation is healthy management practices—connecting with associates, communicating company values, driving individual performance, building strong teams, and developing associates for future growth.  
  • The third part of the model is growth leadership. A leader should have the ability to develop strategies, innovate, take informed risks, and drive initiatives forward to results. 


What is the Milliken Leadership Model, and why was it developed?

The Milliken Leadership Model (MLM) provides a common definition to support individual development and support an aligned and effective leadership team. A company’s leaders are typically a collection of individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds who have been influenced by different corporate cultures. A common leadership definition, language, and expectations help align the leaders and aid in collaborating and working across organizational lines. Most complex initiatives require leaders across an organization to work together towards a common goal.  

Sometimes, leaders can have a narrow perspective on their role and can have blind spots.  The MLM addresses this by painting a clear, comprehensive picture of all the different hats that a leader must wear to do their jobs well:  people management, innovation, team development, strategy, execution.  

The strength of our collective leadership capabilities is critical to delivering our long-term strategic plan and growth aspirations. We see the MLM serving as a foundation for building our leadership skill set and directly supporting our progress towards the 2025 strategic goals—and beyond.


How does the Milliken Leadership Model cultivate leadership within the company?

The MLM will be used in all aspects of our leadership talent management practices. It will support hiring decisions for new roles, serve as a reference for individual leaders’ development plans, and be referenced for performance expectations, feedback, and coaching. 

It will also inspire new leaders, as it outlines what it takes to move into a leadership role and supports personal development and succession planning. In concert with Milliken University, our ongoing training portal, the MLM will help support associates with a range of development resources. 


Why does multi-generational leadership matter?

Diverse, multi-generational leadership is critical to the success of any business, including our own. We need leaders with diverse experiences and perspectives to tackle difficult situations and make thoughtful decisions. The MLM helps us clearly frame the expectations and duties of leadership across generations and encourages us to take a long-term approach to future succession planning. 

Personally, I’ve seen the strength of a multi-generational leadership pool in many ways. They communicate, connect, and engage with a workforce comprising of recent college graduates through seasoned professionals. They also help to build and sustain the corporate culture. We need leaders that know the company history and can pass that on to newer associates, and we need fresh leaders that bring new experiences and ideas to the company. 


How is Milliken investing in both current and future leaders?

Milliken University will present three different development programs based on the Milliken leadership model:

  • For our leadership level, we will have a five-day program taught in partnership with the faculty of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. They will use a series of case studies, readings, and exercises to bring the MLM to life and help develop the awareness and skills our leaders need. 
  • For our managers and prospective managers, there will be a Manager 101 program that will focus on building foundational management skills: communicating corporate values, managing employees’ performance, building strong teams, and supporting individuals’ career development. 
  • We will also have a program for manufacturing managers and supervisors to support the unique management and leadership challenges in the plant environment.  Milliken University will also provide a series of self-study resources, including articles, books, podcasts, and videos, to help associates advance their own development.


Why is this effort essential to our work as a global manufacturer committed to making a positive impact?

Organizations have obligations that go beyond profitability. They should also be good corporate citizens and add value to the communities where they operate, and they must support the well-being and professional development of their employees around the world. Recognizing this mandate and taking steps towards these broader responsibilities support the long-term success of the enterprise. 

Our leadership sets the ‘tone from the top’—signaling what is important to the organization to meet its stakeholder requirements. The MLM helps us develop leaders who can perform to these varied stakeholder groups and develop and inspire the whole organization to do so.