There are those leaders who say outright, “We don’t have a safety culture, we have my culture.” or “It’s my way or the highway.” There leaders who are so smart they have to be the one with the ideas even when the ideas came from their subordinates. Some take the credit for other’s work. Then there are those that are so focused on what they think is important, they have no clue what’s happening in their organizations. Where are those leaders who facilitate learning and advancement of those in their charge? Where are those leaders who seek opportunity to mentor and help others achieve more than they could on their own? Where are the leaders who have a sense of the pulse while seeking to advance everyone they encounter? Few and far between is the answer.
Company and societal culture is more often than not all about getting ahead no matter what the cost. Leaders validate the victimhood of those in their ranks as do the personnel when talking about how bad leadership is. Leaders lash out in the primacy of passion for their way of thinking. There’s so much focus on getting things right and not screwing up as mistakes costs money, time and quality. We are so lean and constrained, it’s a wonder we get anything done. Driving to root cause, learning from mistakes and embracing ignorance is a thing of the past leaving us in the doldrums of get the job done or else. There’s so much urgency that knowing why we are doing what we are doing has flittered out of the window like some near extinct butterfly. Helping others and collaboration is a long lost art left to archaic social constructs unless you are part of the in-crowd at your organization or the current pet leadership project. All of this gives business a bad wrap. It also drives separatism. it’s no wonder when people think of business, they think of being screwed by “the man.” It’s so much easier to remain the victim than taking responsibility and leading their own lives.
When people think of business, they think of all the negative, “out to get you” approaches so ingrained in our workplaces. If you’re not young and full of “piss and vinegar” or that “get ‘er done” attitude, you get left behind. We have ineffective leaders in our businesses and government as evidenced by all of the failed projects and simply not meeting goals. Our situation is deteriorating or at least that’s the sense of things at work and in our cultures around the world.
I think the negative take on business is a bunch of horse shit. The fundamental principle of business is to exchange value for value. The value may be goods or services, but something we value we nonetheless. Business is interaction. There is nothing good nor bad about it aside from our judgement of goodness. It’s simply exchange. This is true whether we are talking about business leadership, company profit or simply getting things done in our own lives. Business thrives when we understand what is of value to ourselves and the organizations we are a part of of. Without a common understanding of value, we become lost in the chaos of change without purpose. We also become profit for those who do understand what is value to them. Managers whine about being resource constrained and supervisors just push for the sake of pushing when there is no over-arching need for expediency. While there is truth to being resource constrained and the need to save money be getting things done quickly, the underlying issue of acting without purpose pervades organizations as well as our lives. Finding meaning in our work evaporates like the budgets available to pay for the cost of doing business. We wind up going to work as it pays the bills instead of connecting with a deeper meaning or purpose.
Leadership is an exchange of values but focused on long-term cultivation. The current culture is so short-term focused, it loses long-term value. We are so short-sighted, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We simply go into work and see what problem arises or what customer loses their shit. When leaders are wrapped up in their own short-comings of being smart, needing to be seen as capable of doing everything, and credit seeking, they sacrifice long-term benefits and lose the respect of those around them. When leaders let go of their egos and continually learn how to help those around them, they generate more long-term benefits. Letting others have the spotlight, make decisions with guidance, and learn by making mistakes, managers and supervisors become leaders.
In our personal lives, we exchange value for value all the time in our interactions. Focusing on long-term benefit of both parties in an interaction is simply good business. Short term gain is good, but long-term benefit to both parties connects us with the deeper meaning of being alive and evolving through time. To do so, we have to get over ourselves realizing that our way is not the only way. We have to step back and come to understand we can learn from everyone we come into contact with most especially those that we think are our subordinates whether that’s our kids or personnel if we are managers.
Fostering a successful biz of you has a lot to do with getting over yourself and helping the whole system achieve it’s collective purpose as opposed to focusing on one’s own benefit. When we approach business like this, benefit can be had on all sides of our interactions.
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