Leading With Purpose and Vision

Q&A with Joan Maxwell, the co-founder and president of Regulator Marine
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Regulator Marine co-captains and co-founders Joan and Owen Maxwell with first mate Buddy, their yellow Labrador.

Regulator Marine co-captains and co-founders Joan and Owen Maxwell with first mate Buddy, their yellow Labrador.

What does it mean to be a leader?

Being a leader is having a vision and a purpose that transcends just one person. A vision so inspired that others want to embrace it and adopt a purpose that drives us all toward a collective mission. I see my job as helping our team catch that vision, then inspiring and empowering the team to do what it takes to accomplish it.

These are probably not new ideas — you could find some version in any Leadership 101 course. But what I really believe it takes to be a leader is to be so “sold” on the vision that failure is not an option. That’s part of why I work every day to create a leader-leader mentality. To me, this means that our team believes that the company’s vision is so worthwhile that they will dedicate every ounce of expertise and creativity to accomplish our goals.

People have so much more creativity when it is welcomed by their team and they are counted on to be part of solutions big and small. When we are not allowed to create, to troubleshoot, to solve things, we are left unfulfilled. The company suffers, and — most unfortunate — so does the team member.

It’s not easy to walk this path. As a natural “commander,” I have to fight the urge to just tell someone what to do, so I can move on to my next task. It’s hard work to shift from being a commander to being a leader, but it is so worth it and so rewarding to see what comes alive when you can harness the leader-leader mentality.

How exciting it is to see people realize they are empowered. To see their leaders ask questions and actually consider the answers. This is when real growth occurs, not only for the individual but also for the entire team.

Of course, it takes time and trust to develop good leaders throughout an organization. There really is no quick fix. But I resolve to build a better organization every single day, and we are actually very focused on helping the emerging leaders in our company by taking them through a series called Leaders Who Learn. I hope the team is getting as much out of it as I am.

What are the values you work to uphold and instill every day?

Regulator’s mission statement says that “we build the best center console sportfishing boats with people, processes and resources to honor God.” Our mission clearly reminds us that when we build a Regulator, we are committing to use everything we have ­­— our best selves, our processes, our knowledge and the materials around us ­— to build the best center console sportfishing boats. Not just OK, but the best. While we certainly honor our customers, it is our belief that if we are honoring God, then we are also by default honoring the customers that He sends us.

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What does service mean to Regulator as a company, and to Regulator employees? And what are a few key examples from the past year of how this came to life?

Service comes in many forms here at Regulator — there is service to one another through an Employee Emergency Assistance Fund and service to our community, where we give both time and resources.

Regulator formed a team about three years ago called “In His Service.” Each time I have the privilege of attending an “In His Service” meeting, I am humbled by the love and concern this team has for their fellow associates. I provide this team with a budget that can be used to fund the EEAF and also community giving. The needs of the associates are very confidential. Our coordinator, Toni Gibbs, simply shares a case number and the need with her team. Then the team prays, evaluates the need and decides whether or not to fund it. It is an amazing process to watch.

Over the past year, there certainly have been financial needs, but there also have been emotional needs. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we have not been able to hold many companywide functions, and our corporate chaplain — who serves other industries, as well — was not allowed entrance to our facility. In fact, we were unable to hold our traditional Christmas party, where anniversary awards and prizes are given out. So our team developed almost daily “prize patrol” deliveries — think Publishers Clearing House delivery of the big check. The prize patrol could be heard coming through the plant with Christmas music playing, bells ringing and gifts. It was so joyful and beautiful to see.

And that’s just one example. Last spring, the team put together a care package with a movie, popcorn and candy so our team members could enjoy family time. As the movie theaters have begun to open, we’ve offered free tickets to uplifting movies and free concession packages for families. The list goes on.

That’s because service isn’t a “give to get” proposition. Service is an act of love toward our fellow man. Because in the end, we all need to feel loved and valued — that’s how our creator wired us. 

This article was originally published in the June 2021 issue.

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