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Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe: Lead with a Purpose

When it comes to motivating coworkers to produce top-quality work, infusing individuals with a sense of purpose is key, according to Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe. Poppe, who delivered a keynote address to nearly 50 regional business leaders, said “Show your coworkers that what they do every day makes a difference.” The presentation was a part of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s ongoing Inside the CEO Mind series and was held April 19 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

Consumers Energy’s mission statement is, “World-Class Performance Delivering Hometown Service.” This mission, Poppe said, was born out of an experience she had at the post office in her hometown several years ago.

“I remember walking into the post office and the woman I spoke to asked me, ‘How is your dad doing? We all love Bill here.’ My dad had not visited this post office in several years, but the staff still remembered him. Now that is hometown service.”

Poppe said that simply “being nice” is not enough.

“If you cannot deliver your service or product efficiently and effectively, customers will not continue their relationship with your business.”

This is where the “world-class performance” component comes in. By combining world-class performance with hometown service, Poppe believes Consumers Energy is truly making a difference in the energy industry.

While Poppe was collaborating on a new mission statement, she simultaneously worked on the new triple bottom-line model Consumers adopted.

“Consumers Energy is focused on three things: people, the planet and prosperity,” she said. “Businesses cannot disregard the people their products and services affect. We are really taking a customer-centric focus at Consumers as part of our mission to deliver world-class performance with hometown service.”

Through Poppe’s leadership, Consumers Energy has retired more coal plants than any other energy company in the country. At the same time, it has decreased its water usage by 35 percent. In her closing comments, Poppe said the key to encouraging these large-scale changes was leading with confidence and being intentional.

“People will follow a leader they believe in,” she said. “So make sure you are leading them down a purpose-driven path.”