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July 26. 2014 7:38PM

Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Market Basket feud great example of loyalty, leadership


 

MARKET BASKET has dominated the news ever since word got out that CEO Arthur T. Demoulas was fired by the company's board of directors. The Market Basket saga is a complicated one, rooted deep in a long standing family feud between Arthur T. Demoulas and his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas.

By now you've probably heard all about the battle for the top seat at Market Basket, so I won't get into the details about what has led up to the most recent events. Never mind what's happened before, let's look at what's happening now. It's actually pretty amazing.

If you've shopped at Market Basket within the last week, there's a good chance you weren't able to find everything on your grocery list like you normally can. That's because thousands of Market Basket employees are protesting the firing of Arthur T. Demoulas.

Employees are protesting and holding rallies demanding Arthur T. be reinstated as the CEO. In addition to the rallies, many employees are simply refusing to perform their jobs, leaving most stores empty and loyal customers forced to shop somewhere else.

This situation is extremely unfortunate, but to me it's a great example of loyalty and effective leadership. When you hear the stories about Arthur T. Demoulas from Market Basket employees, you can clearly see why so many people are protesting. It's pretty simple. Arthur T. Demoulas took very good care of his employees and in turn created a very loyal team of people who today, are willing to put their jobs on the line in order to save his.

I was listening to an interview with a Market Basket employee who was raving how amazing Arthur T. was as a leader. He said that when Arthur T. showed up at a store, he would often walk around and talk to employees and customers. The employee said it would take him four or more hours to make his way through the store and it was something he did frequently. Is that very complicated? Not at all. But it's a simple example of why he is so loved and respected by the people he led for so many years.

You can't argue the success Market Basket has experienced while Arthur T. has led the company. It's disappointing to see a situation like this unfold. We know there are probably a lot more behind the scenes details that we may not be aware of. Family and business disputes are rarely a clean fight. But one thing is for sure. The employees of Market Basket are making it very clear. They want Arthur T. Demoulas leading the company. And until that happens, I think Market Basket will be in a world of hurt as an organization.

Customers aren't going to sit around and wait for a family feud to be sorted out. They've have already been forced to go to shop at the competition and you can guarantee other grocery stores will capitalize on this major debacle. Customer loyalty is a hard thing to develop, but an easy thing to lose. For the sake of the thousands of employees at Market Basket, it's my hope that the board of directors and executive team can work through whatever differences they have, do the right thing, listen to the employees and do what is best for the company.

Christopher Thompson (cthompson@catch22solutions.com) writes Closing the Deal weekly. He is the vice president of sales and services for leadership solutions at Skillsoft, a Nashua-based provider of learning solutions. Visit Skillsoft at www.skillsoft.com.



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