Leadership and Kern Hill Furniture

Those of you familiar with Winnipeg would know of Kern Hill Furniture and Nick Hill’s “C’mon down” catch phrase. Sadly Nick Hill is no longer with us, but his son Andy is carrying on the tradition. Nick Hill was a man larger than life and anybody that met him remembered the meeting. I was lucky enough to meet him once as my father was from the North End and they shared common friends.

Here is one of Nick Hill’s famous commercials.

Leadership and Growth

Late in Nick Hill’s life, his oldest son Andy started doing Kern Hill Furniture commercials. The first commercials seemed quite forced and I’m sure even Andy would say that these commercials were not his best. I remember wondering if Andy would be able to step in the rather large shoes of his father. I even remember wondering if Kern Hill Furniture would be around in the future. Did Andy have the same passion and charisma that his father had?

Today Kern Hill Furniture is doing well by all accounts and Andy is doing his father proud. His style is very reminiscent of his father and if you closed your eyes you might just imagine a young Nick Hill.

So what does this have to do with Leadership and Growth?

Well it appears that all Andy needed was an opportunity to grow and lead. I can imagine that it would be difficult to have the opportunity to try new things and lead when Nick was around and he could still light up a room. But once Nick was gone, Andy had to carry on. There was no choice. Andy was now the leader.

I wondered about how many teams have people who could do so much more but are not given the opportunity. I thought about my teams and how often I like to offer my opinions that make decisions. Sometimes that is required,  but other times that may prevent others from also leading and making decisions. (and growing) It is an interesting situation. How can we best find the middle ground that allows for successful projects and for the growth of our team mates and friends. I know I am going to be more committed to allowing for the maximum growth of my teams mates. Andy Hill reminded me of the potential we all have inside of us. It just takes the right opportunity to bring it out.

I think it is hard to have the patience to allow other to lead when we think we have the capability to make the decision ourselves. We may think it will add risk as people new to leading and making decisions will make mistakes.  And you are correct. But by minimizing project risk, we are accumulating corporate/company risk. Eventually we need to grow leaders so the company can grow and prosper.

You never know who the next great leader will be unless you give them a chance to shine.


Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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