As a former CEO who was fortunate to have many exciting assignments in various business environments around the world, I've witnessed a multitude of corporate operating philosophies, some successful - some not so. More recently, working as a consultant, coaching executives involved in career transition and organizational transformation, I've noticed a wave of discontent among both management and employees. Numerous corporations around the world are going through "gut wrenching" turmoil as global competition, economic uncertainty, and government regulation threaten their existence. In many cases, organization charts change before the ink dries and monthly "downsizing" programs leave entire families in a state of unending fear, wondering whether their bread winner will be next.
Books such as "Thriving on Chaos" by Tom Peters and "Control Your Own Destiny or Someone Else Will" by Noel Tichy and Stratford Sherman define the times. From my perspective, what's needed is the implementation of a few "principles from the heart" in the operating philosophy of every business. Businesses guided with a heart based operating philosophy would make a great place to work and provide a model for replication. A heart based operating philosophy would include the following principles.
Principle #1: CREATE ALIGNMENT
It's the CEO's responsibility to create a shared vision for the business. Having a shared vision provides the opportunity for each stakeholder in the company to align with that vision. Each and every action - implemented or planned - can then be assessed to determine whether it aligns with the vision or not. If it doesn't, don't put any energy into it. Having a shared vision also provides the opportunity for each employee to establish supporting goals that reflect their commitment to the vision - keeping their attention focused. Commitment evokes top performance. Keep the Vision Statement simple. A long-winded statement that implies that your company will be all things to all people won't do. Jack Welch's vision for GE was to be number 1 or number 2 in every chosen business segment - simple, understandable, and easily measured.
Principle #2: PROMOTE SELF-RESPONSIBILITY
Self-responsibility builds self-esteem and is the product of employees fully realizing that they are the source of their own life experiences. Their experiences are created by their beliefs and they endeavor to remove those beliefs that limit them. Employees operating as source of their lives are fully expressing themselves. They willingly contribute their talent and creativity in alignment with the CEO's vision - no clock watching, blaming, or judging. They alone take total responsibility for achieving their goals. They operate from the heart. They enjoy a challenge and always rise to the occasion. They respond well to coaching and encouragement.
Principle #3: FOSTER INTEGRITY
Integrity is the most important principle. Without it, all else fails. The complaint voiced most often by employees I have counseled was the pervasive lack of trust in management. Establishing an atmosphere of openness and trust is vital, especially when it comes to identifying and solving problems. In communications, honesty is essential. Employees appreciate honesty and will likewise extend it to your clients and suppliers.
Principle #4: FACILITATE INTEGRATION
Fully integrate your business - eliminate those things that invite employee separation. Improve communications and morale by literally removing unnecessary walls and fancy titles. Close down the separate management dining room. Remove the privileged parking spaces and executive perks. Make your employees stakeholders in the business. Having something at stake ups the ante on commitment and fosters pride of ownership. Departments create self perpetuating identities. Replace them, where possible, with multi functional units where members participate in all aspects of a project - building knowledge and a wider perspective. Reward cooperation and effectiveness. Encourage your employees to dissolve barriers. Keep focused on the marketplace and involve your major customers and suppliers in your vision. Listen to their ideas. Build long term relationships.
Principle #5: CULTIVATE APPRECIATION
Appreciate each and every employee for their contribution to the business. Help them understand and appreciate their individual uniqueness and the strength available by capitalizing on the diversity of the group. Appreciate the demands made by your customers for higher quality products and better service. Use their demands as benchmarks for improvement. Appreciate the dedication of your suppliers and their interest in your success. Give generously to your community in support of its services to you and your employees. Acknowledge your competitors for keeping you on your toes. Be grateful for your investors and don't forget to acknowledge yourself for having the courage to take a stand for what you know is right. Build these principles into your operating philosophy and you'll be guiding from the heart.
Watch the results - you'll be amazed!
Bruce Doyle has over 20 years experience as a Corporate Executive, Career Coach, and Business Consultant. His book, Before You Think Another Thought, published by Hampton Roads Publishing Co., Charlottesville, VA is dedicated to helping individuals achieve their full potential by having them realize that it's their own beliefs that create their limiting life experiences. Bruce is on the Board of the San Diego Leadership Initiative, has over 15 articles published, leads Power Up for Success workshops, and serves as a keynote speaker. He can be contacted at email@example.com.