Responsible Business

What is the ethical, social or environmental responsibility of business?   The answer to this question rests on whether or not organizations are machines of commerce, profit-producing instruments. The law of corporations says they are run primarily in the interest of stockholders, the responsibility is fiduciary. Let’s assume that this is indeed the case; that they are profit-producing instruments.

A hammer—a tool for driving a nail—has no ethical, social or environmental responsibility.  Neither does an automobile, an instrument for transportation.  It seems then the organization has no more of a responsibility than any other instrument or tool.  However the one employing the instrument does! Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #9

In a New York Times interview, Michael Mathieu of YuMe describes the means and meaning of success and the associated role of management/leadership.   Michael said, “the key to success is to wake up every day and do the best you can do.”   If this is the key to success then leadership, at base, should enable people to do exactly this. Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #7

As Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, stated in a recent interview, “it’s okay to try, and if it doesn’t work, learn from it, adjust and keep failing forward.  And if you just fail forward all the time—learn, fail, learn, fail, learn, fail—but every single time you’re making it better and better, before you know it you’re a great company.”   What’s the message?  Successfully leading a business is not about just having successes, it is about whether with each initiative/action—no matter the judgment on the outcome—you move forward.  That is to say, whether you are making progress. Continue reading

Leadership…Who Cares

Given the prevalence of a results oriented focus, leadership development is very often means leadership skill development for results.  The premise is that an individual could get results—the measure of effective leadership—if he/she just acquired the right skills. This operative paradigm casts a leader as a skillful mechanic of the business machine, that if equipped with the tools and techniques he/she can keep it running—just like a well-oiled machine.  Why else is it so common to hear MBA programs and leadership development workshops promote how they provide their participants with the skills and tools they need to be effective? Continue reading

Time is More than Money

Would you invest your money with an institution/organization that didn’t recognize the value of your deposit and that didn’t enable it to synergize with that of other depositors?  Of course you wouldn’t!  Why?  Likely you expect to have returned what you’ve put in plus interest.   In fact, you would probably choose that institution/organization that provided the highest interest. Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #5

A recent New York Times interview with Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic, reveals an orientation and practice that reflects often overlooked qualities and expectations of leadership.

First and foremost quality is being human.  Oh many might say, aren’t we all human!  Would this not mean that everyone provides leadership? Continue reading

People Centered Management

Each year the Top 100 Best Places to Work is generated by the Great Place to Work Institute and published by Fortune magazine.  Although there is an element of self-selection and rankings disregard the distribution of this index across companies, the list of companies do present a group of companies with a discernable difference.  This difference lies primarily with how employees of the companies are generally treated—benefits, training, autonomy, challenge.  In short, it is a list of companies that acknowledge the importance of the people they employ. Continue reading

Hidden Lessons in Leadership #4

Kip Tindell, Container Store CEO, shares important fundamentals of leadership in a New York Times Corner Office interview.  At base Kip’s underlying belief about the business of business is not the usual it’s nothing personal it’s just business but rather to the contrary, business is very personal.  The foundational principles of the Container Store reflect a belief in the non-superficial nature of the business of business.  Accordingly Kip approaches his role in business as he does his role as a fellow human being in life stating: “…most people seem to think that there’s a separate code of conduct in business from your personal life, And I always believed they should be the same.”   What this reveals is that the quality of leadership flows from the depth of the underlying philosophy about life that one holds—our very depth as a person.  Thus providing genuine leadership is not separate from you yourself being genuine.  What else could integrity mean! Continue reading

A Competing Fact

Many say competition brings out the best in us.  Is this fact or fiction?

Let’s assume it is fact.  Accordingly, since we want the best to emerge from whatever involves people we must make it a competition.  We want a winner to incite the rest (of us losers) to become winners.  No one wants to be a loser! Continue reading

Superficiality Won’t Suffice

How leaders—management in authority—respond to the question, what is the business of business, will likely pre-figure how they design and manage their organization.

If those in authority believe the business of business is profit then they will very likely organize and manage as if the world is their oyster. According to this system of thought, reality is a collection of objects (i.e. resources) and business is a tool—an instrument, a machine—for the purpose of exacting material gain from the assets or resources at hand. Resources include the people employed by the enterprise—objectified as labor.   I am sure you have heard or perhaps even spoken these words: our employees are our greatest assets!  Stop and think about this: Who really wants to be the useful tool of another? Continue reading