As several fraternity brothers gathered for a mandatory meeting in the chapter house’s common room, a few seniors stood to explain what was about to happen with the upcoming Campustowne Races. The young men, already lining up jobs for after graduation, easily could have quit caring and just done the minimum. Instead, they spoke with a voice of earnest authority.
“They talked about how the whole event was bigger than the races and about the impact we could make on the larger community,” remembers Steve Barbarick, BA ’90, a Delta Upsilon brother who recently stepped down as president and chief operating officer of Tractor Supply Co.
Campustowne Races was a large event that raised money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri. Fraternity and sorority teams raced one another in pushcarts down Rollins Street, from Greek Town to Brady Commons (now the MU Student Center).
Planning the event required coordination, vision and a lot of helping hands. Rooting their task in a greater purpose galvanized the brothers and created the energetic, cooperative spirit they needed to succeed.
Barbarick, as an underclassman, took a lesson from those seniors. It informed his leadership style throughout his career in retail and in life. “Retailers sell a bunch of widgets with the goal of making money,” says Barbarick, explaining the textbook view of his business. “That’s not how Tractor Supply sees itself. We are here to serve a greater cause.”
For Barbarick, that meant putting employees in a position to meet their customers’ needs so those customers can live life on their terms. It meant establishing relationships with suppliers that both sides can feel good about. And on and on.
“Having the ability to lead is not a privilege but rather a burden of responsibility to the success of those around you,” he says. “I found that, in the fraternity house or any leadership role I’ve ever had, leaders who make it about themselves lose the opportunity to do something far greater.”