Not Just a Chair

September 18, 2019
Written by: Wendy Mann, CAE, CREW Network CEO

When I sat down in the chair in the conference room at Haworth headquarters last week, it felt amazing.  The back support was key. Haworth is a CREW Network sponsor and an industry leader in the design and manufacturing of furniture, workspace and a variety of office systems. 

Haworth Global Brand Director Kurt Vander Schuur explained that both research and technology went into making the chair—it’s a new design and it’s woven. The structure, the fabric and the way it was designed were all developed through deep research in Haworth’s Holland, Michigan facility. 

It was fascinating to learn about the intense work they invested in designing this conference room chair. To me, it was just a chair—a place to rest, a location to sit for the meeting and a stop off on the way to other places. As Kurt talked about the research, both physical and behavioral, I grew increasingly impressed by my chair. I think I even stood up to take a closer look at it. 

The chair struck me as symbolic for many other things in our life that have depth behind them that we may not see. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to pause and seek the deeper meaning behind any situation.  

It dawned on me how many times each day we take things at face value when there may be so much more behind it. Whether it is at work with a colleague who may be having a bad day or at home with a spouse or child, we never know what might be behind the moment. 

When you work with people or lead people, you must always take a deeper look to understand a situation, challenge or barrier. Likely, there is something beneath what you are seeing. 

Do you ever pause in a meeting when you see a colleague battling for their project or initiative? Do you stop and ask yourself…what is underneath that I’m not seeing? What is behind his or her demands? 


Meeting members of the CREW West Michigan board of directors.

My visit to Haworth was connected to a meet and greet with members of our newest chapter, CREW West Michigan.  Over lunch with a wonderful group of 90 commercial real estate professionals, we talked about CREW Network, finding your “tribe,” and how to navigate change.  Looking deeper, I realize it was my opportunity to see so much more about the western part of Michigan… a thriving commercial real estate industry, a growing city and exceptional leadership in our newest chapter. I paused to let it all sink in. 


Wendy Mann, CAE

Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.

Twitter: @crew_wendym


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