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Sam Adams Founder: 'You Can't Expect More of Your People Than You Expect of Yourself'

In the early days of starting a company, you’re going to need a lot from your staff -- and you may not be able to give them a pile of cash in return. If your team believes in you and your mission, though, you might be surprised what they will do for you.

“Culture and values can substitute for resources,” Boston Beer Company CEO Jim Koch told in Washington D.C. during National Small Business Week. Much of what he knows about leadership stems from the 1970s when he was leading groups of people on wilderness trekking adventures, through tortuous conditions with humble supplies.

Boston Beer Company is the brewhouse behind Samuel Adams, the brand that largely kickstarted the craft beer movement in the United States. Koch started Boston Beer Company in 1984 out of his kitchen with a recipe from his great-great grandfather's recipe for Louis Koch Lager. In 2013, Boston Beer Company had revenues of $739 million, sold 3.4 million barrels of beer and had over 1,100 employees.

While Boston Beer House is still a small brew compared to brewing giants MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev -- which earned $7.8 billion and $43.2 billion in 2013, respectively -- the Sam Adams brewery has grown a handsome amount under Koch’s leadership.

And Koch has learned a thing or two in the past three decades. First and foremost, that as a leader, your spirit navigates the way for your employees.

“The leader is never tired. The leader never has a bad day, and the leader has to have more energy than everybody else. Because you can’t expect more of your people than you expect of yourself. And you can’t ever be depressed or scared or have morale problem because that just reverberates through everybody else,” Koch said. “People don’t care what you tell them, they look at what you do, and you are always, as a leader, you are always visible.”

To learn more about Koch’s views on what it takes to be a good boss, watch this video.


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