Turknett Leadership Group

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4th Annual Leadership Character Awards - 2006

Integrity Celebrated at Annual Leadership Character Awards

Turknett Leadership Group recognizes individuals from Crawford & Co., AT&T (BellSouth), IBM Software Group, AeA, and Dream House plus top organizations HomeBanc and Pull-A-Part

ATLANTA, GA (February 2007)—Turknett Leadership Group, whose work with leaders and organizations is centered on developing leadership character at all levels, announced the winners of the Fourth Annual Leadership Character Awards at a luncheon event held February 5, 2007 at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead. Kennesaw State’s Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics and Character partnered with Turknett on the awards event for the third year and KPMG served as first time Presenting Sponsor for the event.

"Our people are committed to upholding qualities such as integrity, respect and responsibility," said Tim Bentsen, KPMG's Atlanta managing partner. "By sponsoring this award, we hope to continue the tradition of honoring those that exemplify all of these fine characteristics."

Nearly 400 gathered to recognize over fifty individual and organization nominees and to applaud the winners, each chosen for best exemplifying the standards set forth in the Turknett’s Leadership Character
Model™. Announced as this year’s winners were:

Category: CEO/Pres/Partner
Thomas "Tom" Crawford
Crawford and Co.
Nominated by:
Phyllis Austin

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Category: Executive/Manager
Hal G. Henderson
Nominated by:
Buddy McElhannon, Joyce Cauley, Annette Moffitt, Gordon Barber, Tommy Padgett

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Denise Billips
Nominated by:
Linda Wind

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Category: Associate
Regina Maddox
Nominated by:
Mike Levin

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Category: Non-profit 501(c)(3)/Public Sector/Education
Laura Moore
Dream House for the Medically Fragile Children
Nominated by:
Jeff Fox

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Category: Small Organization
Category: Small Organization
Nominated by Ross Kogon

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Category: Large Organization
HomeBanc Mortgage Corp.
Category: Large Organization
Nominated by Jim Huling

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More about the event:

“This ceremony once again proves that it is the things we do on a regular basis that says more about our values and priorities as leaders than any words we speak!” remarked Hal G. Henderson, AT&T (BellSouth).

Denise Billups, Director Worldwide TeleWeb Sales, IBM Software Group commented, “ No one who accomplishes anything in business or in life does it alone. Working to be the best servant leader I can be in my company, my community and my life, and reaching back and pulling others through to achieve their own goals is my way of honoring all of the unselfish people who have helped me along the way.”

Recognized in the Southeast since 1980 for its work with executives and organizations in the areas of integrity and character, Atlanta-based Turknett Leadership Group received over fifty nominations for the four award categories. The nominated individuals and organizations were recognized for having unquestioned integrity, for treating their customers, suppliers and each other with respect, and for maintaining a culture in which everyone takes responsibility for achieving results and upholding their core values.

Nominations for the Leadership Character Award were evaluated by the Award Advisory Panel composed of Conchita Robinson, president and CEO of C Robinson Associates, Inc.; Dr. Betty Siegel, President Emeritus and Endowed Chair of Siegel Institute of Leadership, Ethics & Character at Kennesaw State University; W. Thomas (Tom) Smith, Founder and Managing Partner of Total Technology Ventures; and Oz Nelson, retired chairman and CEO of UPS. Winners were selected by this panel and announced at the event.

Commenting on the Awards, Dr. Robert Turknett, CEO of Turknett Leadership Group, said, “Each year Lyn and I look forward to this event as an opportunity to honor the many leaders of character in our community. All attendees are energized by the nominees - extraordinary individuals who lead with integrity and character.”

CEO/President Award
Tom Crawford

Tom Crawford, president & CEO of Crawford & Company (no relation to Crawford & Company founder) from day one articulated the company’s vision “to be recognized as the world’s leader in claims and administrative solutions.” He told employees that he would always be honest with them and let them know the good and the challenging issues they faced as a company. He has lived up to that promise and more.

Everyday Tom demonstrates his integrity. He expects honesty from his managers and that includes keeping no issues from him – a concept of “managing without fear.” In monthly staff meetings, Tom encourages managers to share problems in order to share solutions. This practice not only works well, but it helps unite the team.

In addition to integrity, Tom stands for excellence - coining the phrase “Excellence in Everything We Touch.” Each person who works on a case is responsible for checking their own work and that of others before them. Tom also ensures that the same high standards are used for performance evaluations across the board without favoritism.

Tom’s nominator said, “Even though he’s the CEO, he’s one of us. He eats in the same community lunch room, talks to us about our families and hobbies, and keeps business talk to a minimum.” It’s clear that Tom feels a responsibility to the associates as much as to the bottom line. He’s helped Crawford workers get career opportunities when their business unit was sold, helped financially in cases of hardship and disaster, and provided coaching and mentoring to the next generation of business owners and leaders.

Finally, whether he’s dressing up like Santa Clause to give to an adopted family in need, or leading by example within his company, Tom Crawford is a role model for Leadership Character.

Executive / MGR Category
Hal Henderson

Hal Henderson, Network Vice President, BellSouth / AT&T has the distinction of being co-nominated by five managers. We were particularly impressed with the quality and quantity of examples from others who work with him about why he deserves this honor.

One person with more than 34 years of service said: “Hal is at the top of the list of the managers I’ve sought to emulate.” Another said: “Hal Henderson exemplifies the image of a southern gentleman. He’s fair, smart, witty, and above reproach in integrity.” Yet another said. “His team and peers trust him. When faced with difficult issues, he deals with it in a straightforward way.”

In one situation, serious accusations were brought against a long-term employee. While some were ready to terminate the person, Hal insisted on a full security investigation – and at the end of it, the employee’s credibility was restored.

Hal is also a great example of the balance represented by the Turknett Leadership Character Model – the balance of Respect and Responsibility. First, people know that he cares - and he shows respect for them by setting expectations high and encouraging them to exceed them. He’s also open to suggestions - yet he’s decisive; is calm, but firm; is confident but humble - and he always leads by example.

Referred to as “a master of open and honest communications,” Hal holds frequent formal and informal sessions in which the talk can range from job and family to news about the telecommunications industry.

Executive/Manager Category / Award
Denise Billups

One of two recipients in the Executive / Manager Category, Denise Billups, Director Worldwide TeleWeb Sales with the IBM Software Group is an outstanding proponent of always doing the right thing and treating everyone with respect and dignity

Within IBM and in the many community organizations to which she so generously gives her time – Denise is highly respected for her honest and forthright manner – regardless of the consequences. She is truthful with customers even when it may result in business being awarded to someone else.

When it comes to Respect, Denise Billups is the “go to” person. Other leaders seek Denise’s opinion because they value her candor. She also listens, advocates for others, avoids the blame game, and shows her own vulnerability. But possibly the highest form of respect is to treat others as you would like to be treated - and Denise is a master at this.

Balancing Respect with high level of Responsibility, Denise holds herself accountable for not only her own actions but also those of the entire technical organization when something does not turn out as expected. But like a true leader of character, when it comes to credit, she gives that to the team.

Denise is a role model in the area of giving back and serving the needs of others. She has served on the Board of Cool Girls for years, helping empower countless inner city girls. In one elementary school project, which resulted in transformational change, she was instrumental in getting 270 volunteers to share their time and talent.

Associate Category
Regina Maddox

Regina Maddox is a terrific example of the concept of “leaders at all levels.” She is the first point of contact and a primary interface for her organization. As one of 18 Regional Program Managers of the AeA, Regina is an invaluable asset to the Southeast Council and sets a high standard of professionalism and leadership character in everything that she does.

In the area of Integrity, her supervisor wrote: “In my more that 30 years of working with and managing employees, I have never known a person as trustworthy as Regina. She knows that there is no such thing as 99% trust and every executive we work with has complete confidence in her ability to protect sensitive information.” In addition, she personally practices the “no office politics” rule and through her example, helps keep the entire work environment free from this distraction.

There are numerous examples of how Regina demonstrates Respect. Never taking an “us vs them” attitude, she constantly promotes a positive team atmosphere both at the local and national level. No matter the circumstances, she listens and responds with empathy and understanding. And although she receives frequent praise from others, she remains modest about her own contributions.

Regina is also exemplary on the other side of the scale – Responsibility. In a demanding job, she is known as a hard worker, a solutions-seeker, a self-confident leader among her peers. Whatever is required, she is certain to complete her own work on time and by focusing on the whole, helps others do the same.

From every perspective, including a very active family life with two growing boys, Regina’s impact is unmistakable.

Non-Profit/Education Category
Laura Moore

With 15 diverse and very deserving nominees in the non-profit and education category, it was an unenviable task to select this year’s award recipient. Nevertheless, among the nominees is an individual whom we believe is uniquely deserving of the top honor. That person is Laura Moore, Founder and CEO of Dream House for Medically Fragile Children.

After making our decision, we realized that we are not alone in recognizing Laura for her outstanding service and sacrifice. ABC News recently profiled her as their “Person of the Week.” (A clip from that broadcast was shown here).

Laura is an extraordinary woman and an equally extraordinary leader. She shows great courage to do the ‘never been done before’ and she leads with grace and compassion. She is also praised for her unwavering integrity, her openness, her sincerity, her encouragement of others, and her ability to accept and face difficulties and failures and to move ahead wiser. Laura Moore - a woman who has indeed found her purpose in life and is living it everyday.

Small Organization Award Category

With 3 locations in GA as well as facilities in Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee, Pull-A-Part’s success is a reflection of their commitment to respect the environment, the community and the people they serve.

Pull-A-Part shows Integrity through the transparency in its business practices and by honoring its word. Customers know that when they sell a car to Pull-A-Part in “as is” condition, the company will remove all remaining hazardous chemicals and guarantee it is properly disposed of or recycled. As a testament to their high environmental standards, Pull-A-Part’s storm water collection ponds are clean enough to maintain fish and frogs!

Another way Pull-A-Part shows Integrity is by advocating end-of-life recycling. Pull-A-Part’s practices reduce waste by 21%, and last year alone, in GA, diverted almost 2.9 million pounds of waste from entering the state’s landfills.

In addition to protecting the environment, Pull-A-Part also demonstrates an uncommon respect for their employees. The corporate office fosters a culture of trust and mutual respect among managers and employees at all levels by bestowing them with increasingly higher level of responsibility and decision-making. For example, many of the company’s cashiers have the authority to write checks. When new hires enter the company, they are taught the Pull-A-Part culture, thus heightening the feeling of ownership.

There is plenty of attention to accountability and the bottom line. Friendly competition between facilities allows each to learn from the other. Some of the best ideas for improvement come from employee innovation, and the company tries to provide the freedom and resources to put ideas into motion.

Pull-A-Part partners with local fire rescue departments to offer the facility and vehicles for jaws-of-life extrication practice and with local law enforcement K-9 units to provide vehicles for drug and bomb sniffing exercises. They also plant trees for beautification, help keep abandoned cars off the streets, and donate to various charities.

Large Organization Award Category

HomeBanc appears on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work for in America,” but they are much more than a “Great Place to Work.” They are a great example of the right way to do business and a stellar example of Leadership Character as the core of everything that they do.

HomeBanc has institutionalized ethical practices throughout the organization - including mandatory ethics training - and they empower associates to make the right decisions. HomeBanc’s unique Customer Service Guarantee is the only unconditional money-back service guarantee in the industry.

HomeBanc believes that creating and maintaining a world-class employment environment is their competitive advantage. Their corporate scoreboard states that “associate satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction, which drives market share and net income” - therefore their top priority and success metric is associate satisfaction. Through their Office of People and Culture, they make sure the people issues are addressed including work/life balance, wellness, education, training and career-pathing. Not surprisingly, HomeBanc's investment in total HR resources is 7 times higher than the average spent by companies in its Larger Lender peer group.


  • They have Stock Appreciation Rights for every single employee;
  • They have an Associate Emergency Fund that has helped numerous people with unmanageable medical and funeral arrangements;
  • They have a strong commitment to community service and is well on its way to achieving their goal of building 100 Habitat homes by 2025 and raising $1 million for the American Cancer Society.

And then there’s the marathon accomplishment of one HomeBanc associate, a breast cancer survivor. She was supported all the way to the finish line by two senior leaders who sacrificed their personal marathon goals to help a fellow team member.

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