I cannot tell you how much appreciative feedback I received. This is great news, as it indicates just how many people want to make the good and admirable decisions and actions in business. We certainly need that.
For those who did not read the article, by right things I was not merely referring to ethical. Of course, ethical and appropriate are a given. I was also referring to being encouraging and helpful, a great teammate and communicator — in essence and spirit, being a servant leader and a source of positive energy, and only positive energy. Some of the feedback I received:
- “The message is inspirational — developing a positive and encouraging environment is planting seeds of success in our workplace, and for our team
members, and can produce limitless benefits for our firm’s overall success.”
- “Reminds me — managers do things right; leaders do the right things.”
- “Fortunately, I am in a smaller company, very leadership-focused, while in the past I worked with managers with an attitude of just do what we tell you, just comply, adhere to our procedures. They did not encourage creativity, finding new and better ways, collaboration and even asking questions. It was just do it.”
- “We need people who know why they do what they do, are guided by proper values and purpose, versus so many managers who do what they do for money, power, attention, control, title, or corner office.”
- “We need leaders who have faith, a moral compass and love to coach, mentor and help others learn, grow and succeed – to help others! Leaders whose own satisfaction comes from the satisfaction and success of their people.”
- “It is true that doing the right thing helps others and helps us to feel good about ourselves, and I also have found that doing the right thing is key to overall business success. A focus on personal gain can lead to short term success, but doing the right thing usually ensures the ultimate long term emotional (and financial) returns.”
- “I love the thought of doing the right thing as it improves morale and the spirit of an organization’s people. Results will improve. Failure to do the right things has the opposite effects, i.e., reduced drive, people won’t go the extra mile and ultimately turnover, which is a huge hidden cost that management usually rationalizes rather than taking responsibility to learn from and improve.”
It is said that kindness of words motivates others. Our having a sense of kindness in our work, leadership, and our relationships in business, including our internal relationships, is definitely doing the right thing!
Mara Vandlik of McGinn & Co. wrote asking if women are expected to be more graceful, helping and encouraging than men? We could start a dialogue on that question. My answer: This is an area where men should learn from women and their natural leadership skills and competencies, and there are other areas, as well.
Kerry Douglass, a spiritual director and counselor, thoughtfully notes that effective leadership comes through community, not authority. John Kelly of Hanover Stone Partners sent the article to two former leaders with whom he worked and respects. Now, Kelly said, when faced with a difficult decision or issue, he asks himself, “What would Dick or Ed do?” Then, the answer is clear, do what’s right.
This is consistent with a recent conversation with Joe Bottari, a sophomore student athlete at Georgetown, whom I have the privilege of knowing and mentoring. When faced with what he considers a life decision, he takes the time to seek the counsel of those for whom he has great respect. Joe also believes in having great relationships with his teammates and focusing on team goals, as then work and football practice are easier to handle well.
Andy Funt, CEO of Bio Films Innovations, makes an insightful suggestion that we should bear in mind always doing the right thing and also the next right thing. By that Andy means the first right thing might well be an assessment or decision and the next right thing is our action, for example, our reaching out to someone to help them with their inner-confidence as we pursue our desired outcome.
Aaron Spokaeski, a general manager at Billy Casper Golf, a company that definitely treasures it people and consciously tries to listen for their ideas, advice and feedback, points out that doing the right things means being “we oriented,” not “me oriented,” and realizing that as a manager and leader, we are a part of a team and every person is an important member of the team as well, and helping them believe that. We should live to help make lives better every day. That is living in our faith, and isn’t it the way we can be in our business lives?!
Yes, surely it is, and with that personal mission, we can be exemplary and highly effective leaders and team members, by doing our best work and by being positive and by encouraging and helping others do their best work.
After I finished drafting this paper, I happened to read a wonderful article about empathy. It encouraged me to go back and add this paragraph. Empathy helps us improve the lives of others, as well as our own. See something at work that needs fixing? Just quietly fix it. Say “thank you” with eye contact and a smile, and not being too hurried, so the person feels your appreciation. Grab a coffee or tea with someone who could use a conversation. Conversations are a gift if we listen to connect.
A great way to lead our lives from a spiritual sense is to help make lives of others better every day, and we certainly can have that be our personal mission in our work and leadership as well: to encourage and help our team members and other colleagues have better business lives every day. That is doing the right things and that is servant leadership!
John Keyser is the founder and principal of Common Sense Leadership. He works with executives helping them develop organizational cultures that will produce outstanding financial results year after year, and a striving for continuous improvement, theirs and their team’s. You can reach Keyser at firstname.lastname@example.org and 202-236-2800.
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