People Before Profits: 5 Ways to Lead Your Company and Brand

Lead With Heart to Boost Your Business

People or Money

My company sells wine, changes lives, and is growing rapidly. As a CFO-turned-CEO, my business philosophy is simple: Put people first, and the profits will follow.

I am in business to expand job opportunities and awareness for the nearly 57 million Americans who live with disabilities — including my son, Matt. Although my company, 100 Percent Wine, donates all profits to organizations helping people with disabilities find jobs, I’ve seen revenue grow and my brand expand.

The trust and loyalty, generated by brand alignment with a cause, is a powerful differentiator.”

Building Trust

In fact, 90 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental initiatives. Similarly, nine in 10 consumers say they’d switch brands to support a good cause, given a similar price and quality.

As a businessman, I know shareholders want the company to turn a profit. Fortunately, shareholder gains and social responsibility can do more than coexist — they can actually further one another. For instance, the 2014 Global Economics of Disability report proves that companies that support people living with disabilities actually produce higher long-term returns for shareholders.

My Son, My Business

My son was the inspiration for my company. As a father, it pained me to watch Matt face the stigma and assumption that he couldn’t do things I knew he was fully capable of doing. And throughout his life, Matt will have to work hard for job opportunities.

Just 17.1 percent of people with disabilities are employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I took my business background and set out to change that. While my company is still young, its mission has generated a healthy buzz around the wine and the brand. Considering that 100 million Americans have a friend or family member living with a disability, who doesn’t want to expand opportunities for this community?

Socially Responsible Leadership Strategies

If you want to help the world, cultivate goodwill toward your brand, and boost sales, it’s time for you to employ a “people before profits” philosophy at your company.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Authentically Share Your Story

Authenticity is a critical component of a people-first business strategy. Customers are too smart for greenwashing, and they can see through half-hearted giving. FIFA has no shortage of environmental and social initiatives, but that has done little to improve the organization’s public image.

Instead, tell customers what inspired you to show that you’re serious about improving society. Although I hesitated to share Matt’s story, I quickly realized that customers needed to know why I had dedicated myself to this cause. Now, people understand why I’m doing this and empathize with my mission to improve the world for people with disabilities.

2. Donate Wisely and Expect Results

Customers want to see you give charitably, not just talk about it.

However, be sure you vet charities carefully to ensure your dollars do as much good as possible.”

I searched long and hard to ensure 100 Percent Wine’s profits go to the most innovative, creative organizations working to provide jobs for people with disabilities.

We gave our first grant to UCP Heartland because it helps businesses find qualified staff from this community, and we’ll measure our impact by the number of jobs created through our donations.

3. Get Involved

While financial support is important to fixing any of our world’s ills, doing volunteer work for the cause shows customers you’re willing to work in the trenches.

100 Percent Wine seeks to partner with both nonprofit and for-profit organizations that create jobs for people living with disabilities. Sure, I could just write a check every month, but actually working to create sustainable jobs for people with disabilities is so much more valuable. Show your customers why you care by volunteering, working directly with nonprofits, and advocating.

4. Engage the Entire Organization

This can’t just be a CEO initiative; the whole company should care about your cause. Hold rallies to pump up employees, and look for empathy and dedication when hiring new team members.

I’ve made sure every member of my company cares about helping people with disabilities just as much as I do. I hired my talent scout Chuck Blossom to make sure we had the right people on board. Chuck was previously CEO of Boone Center Inc. in St. Charles, Missouri, which employs hundreds of people with cognitive and physical disabilities. He is the right guy for his role.

Additionally, more than one-third of our team consists of people living with disabilities. As we expand further, I’ll continue to vet people not just on their skills, but also on their dedication to helping individuals with disabilities.

5. Think Long-Term

A mission to improve lives can’t be a short campaign. When considering a socially responsible brand strategy, ensure your company’s leaders are on board for the long haul.

To effect change and build loyalty, your brand must be committed to a cause for years to come.”

Newman’s Own has given $450 million to thousands of charities since its inception in 1982. The brand has built a following around the fact that it donates 100 percent of profits to charity, and people everywhere associate the name with charitable giving.

In fact, Newman’s Own inspired my pledge to give 100 percent of my company’s profits to organizations helping the community of people with disabilities.

Leading Lifelong Decisions

Even before my son Matt was born, I knew business should do more than make a profit. But the experience of fatherhood has influenced me to spend my days working to benefit Matt and everybody living with disabilities.

The decision hasn’t just given me a strong business — it’s creating a better world for people living with disabilities.

So what can you and your business do to put people before profits and make the world a better place? What sort of organizing and leadership will it take from your organization to get things moving in a better direction? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Scott Monette

Scott Monette is the founder of 100 Percent Wines, a premium winery.
He donates all profits to nonprofits helping people with disabilities
Email | LinkedIn | Web

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Imaginary Leadership (Part 1 of 2)

Ending the Persecution of People, Productivity and Profit

Imaginary Leader

Have you ever met an Imaginary Leader or experienced the displeasure of working for one?

Unfortunately, it is altogether likely that you have, and it is a foregone conclusion that you didn’t like it.”

It also follows naturally that the group/ company suffered as a result. The reality is, there are a lot of Imaginary Leaders (defined below)…many occupying positions of authority, but all wreaking havoc on people, productivity, and profits.

Punishing Practices

Perhaps you can relate to one of the following based on your experience with leaders in your professional walk:

  • The persecution of people by proxy
  • The persecution of productivity by process
  • The persecution of profit by policy

There may be others, but these are the top 3 punishing practices of Imaginary Leaders that I’ve identified over the past 31 years. In contrast, these are practices that Real Leaders avoid. Not only that, they make a habit of identifying where and when they occur and go out of their way to stop them, every chance they get.

Imitating the Imaginary or Getting Real

Today, Imaginary Leaders not only abound, they continue to grow; mostly because future leaders tend to lead how they were led and since many have served, and been promoted, under Imaginary Leaders…well, you get the point. I should clarify, however, that while their leadership is imaginary the problems (e.g., negative impact/ results) are very real and should be stopped.

But before we can identify and bring an end to these punishing practices, we need to understand a little more about who we’re talking about and the proximate causes that create the persecuting effects.

Two Leadership Profiles

Following is a basic profile of both Imaginary and Real Leaders.

Imaginary leaders are Leaders-in-Position—entitled by promotion to a position (granted by someone higher in the organizational structure).

The Leaders-in-Position is characterized by one or more of the following:

  • Exert mostly positional power (i.e., legitimate, coercive, reward) and often abuse it
  • Have “direct” reports, but only imagine they are being followed
  • Followership is “voluntold” (not voluntary) and motivated by fear, desperation
  • Use authority as the principal source of social, political and professional influence
  • Employ more restrictive than prescriptive leadership strategies
  • Fix the blame when things go wrong
  • Place a primary, if not exclusive, focus on short-term results (and behaviors/ attitudes)

Real Leaders, however, are Leaders-in-Person—earned by appointment to a provisional role (regardless of position, ‘Leader’ becomes a title given by those who choose to follow, regardless of where they are in the organizational hierarchy).

The Leaders-in-Person is associated with the following characteristics:

  • Rely mostly on personal power (i.e., expert, referent, informational) and use positional power judiciously
  • May or may not have direct reports, but actually garner a large following
  • Followership is voluntary; motivated by respect, inspiration
  • Use authenticity as the principal source of social, political and professional influence
  • Employ more prescriptive than restrictive leadership strategies
  • Fix the system when things go wrong
  • Place a primary, but not exclusive, focus on long term results (and effort/ thinking):

Let me add that every leader has a choice to make here; whether our leadership will imitate the imaginary or get real. So before moving on, I want to challenge you to stop for a few minutes and perform a quick self-evaluation against these two distinct leadership profiles.

How have you been led? Where do you fall?”

What “Lies” Behind the Cause

Hidden safely behind the proximate cause(s) are a host of assumptions and theories that undergird and support this contrast. But for the sake of time and space—running the risk of oversimplifying—it can be reduced to basic differences in the following equations when it comes to the performance of people, productivity, and profit:

Command & Control Model

McGregor’s Theory X + Skinnerian Behaviorism + Taylor’s Scientific Management = Command & Control [CC]

Continual Improvement Model

McGregor’s Theory Y + Kohn’s Model for Motivation + Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK)/ 14 Points = Continual Improvement [CI]

While generalizations are not always accurate, the following may help add some much-needed color inside the lines for better contrast:

I’ve embedded some links for further study, but what’s important to understand here is that these combined theories-in-use (i.e., CC and CI) are incompatible and irreconcilable.

A Situational Leadership Dilemma

It may be fanciful to suggest that situational leadership dictates which approach gets applied, but the reality is that this never happens.

Here are a couple of illustrations to support this point.

  • If you hold a CI frame of reference, you won’t ever need to adopt a CC approach to resolve performance problems related to people, process or profit, and the reasons are simple: (a) SoPK has already revealed to the Real Leader that 94% of the performance problems they will encounter are built into the system as a common cause of variation and they’ll seek to reduce variability around these causes in order to improve, and (b) the other 6% of the time that performance problems can be attributable to special causes, they’ll be able to constructively resolve without abandoning CI as there is simply nothing about the CC approach that is more helpful in these situations.
  • If you hold a CC frame of reference, you won’t ever choose to adopt a CI approach to resolve performance problems with people, process or profit. I’ve never seen this occur. In a crisis or performance problem situation, I’ve never seen an Imaginary Leader fix the system after already fixing the blame…NEVER! The reasons are equally simple: (a) they lack Profound Knowledge, so how could systems thinking, a knowledge of variation, the theory of knowledge, and psychology ever inform their actions, and (b) their theories-in-use have convinced them that the performance problem is effectively resolved once “accountability’ firmly fixed the blame, so there is nothing else to do.

The Practices of Persecution

Every leader will engage in certain practices when approaching others and their daily work as a natural consequence of the assumptions they make and the theories they adopt.

It is unavoidable in the thinking-knowing-doing-performing cycle.”

The problem is that, while all theories, by definition, are valid, some are simply more useful to leadership when it comes to improving individual, group and organizational performance.

Even though mounting evidence continues to suggest that the CI approach is based on more useful theories, CC is still extremely prevalent. Compounding the problem is the simple fact that an Imaginary Leader using CC can still get promoted, make more money, and experience all the trappings of success—at least in the short-term.

We see it all the time. Tragically, the longer a CC theoretical framework remains entrenched—both in Academia and in Business—the more likely it is that misattribution of success  (borrowed from Human Synergistics® International’s original defensive misattribution† description) will occur/ recur and the harder it becomes to abandon.

Misattribution of Success occurs when an Imaginary Leader actually begins to mistakenly attribute their success—at least from a short-term perspective and based on certain financial and business-process measures of merit—to CC (and the assumptions/ theories that support it) rather than to other internal factors like a defensive organizational culture (where CC flourishes) or substantial resources with minimal demands (where the group/ organization can succeed in spite of CC).

† Cooke, R.A. and Szumal, J.L., Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate, pp. 152-159, Copyright © 2000 by Sage Publications.

This is why we find ourselves where we are today with Imaginary Leaders and the corresponding practices of persecution mentioned above, which you can read in greater detail here: Imaginary Leader (Part 2 of 2).

In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
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Leaders: Be a Mirror Unto Yourself

How to Create More Mental Space to Drive Success

Mindfulness

As leaders, we are encouraged to meet people. You know, network, get close to key influencers and difference makers. 

This makes sense. And I do believe a vast personal and professional network is important.”

However, I would suggest that in order to grow, the most important person you need to get familiar with is yourself. Self-knowledge can be transformational.

On Personal Mindfulness

My favorite place to hang out is in my head. I find it an interesting place to be. It can be funny, crazy and, every once in a while, heavy. I spend this time both formally and informally. I consider myself a student of my own mind and the thoughts that it produces.

Mindful MirrorI feel this is a great use of my time. I know there is a real benefit. I am more in tune to the way I will react in a given situation. I’ve recognized the things I meet head on and those from which I retreat.

I’ve learned that a thought is merely a passing cloud and not a real construct from which I must act. Most importantly, I have created space in my head.

I have learned how to catch myself in a thought, before acting on it. The side benefit of doing so is that I take myself far less seriously. I find the workings of my mind and the habits it churns out very funny. Being able to laugh at those captured thoughts has loosened the grip they could have on me.

On Powerful Routines

I have a daily meditation practice. I would encourage everyone to add this to their routine. To sit and watch your mind is far more entertaining than any reality TV show. When you realize that a thought, regardless of how visceral or powerful it may feel, is no more than a wave, rising and falling away, it can be truly liberating.

We you recognize that it is your choice whether or not to feed that thought with the energy needed for it to manifest, it is really powerful.

I find casual “mind time” in a myriad of ways. For example, while driving, walking or just sitting out back. It is my place of refuge, my sanctuary.

I go there when I need to step off of life’s merry-go-round.”

As an introvert, I sometimes retreat into the inner sanctum of my mind in large social settings when the cacophony of conversation becomes too much. Oddly, doing so has also helped me to recognize this behavior. I have become more mindful of this tendency and, therefore, less likely to just check out.

Your Mind’s Own Reflection

I believe that spending time, looking at your mind’s own reflection makes you a better giver of time to others. It helps you listen more fully. You are more aware of your habit driven reactions or those propelled by ego and insecurity.

You become more present, which is a wonderful gift to offer another.”

We are just so frequently not there, in that moment. It is something the receiver will undoubtedly notice.

I have been working on this for years. In terms of catching my thoughts before acting on them, my batting average is far lower than I care to admit. But, I understand that it is a practice because habit energy is hard to break. Creating space and slowing things down is difficult, yet, over time, I see it happening more and more frequently.

I emerge from the time spent inwardly able to more fully meet this moment outwardly. I am more present for those I interact with and a better giver of my time. By being a mirror unto myself, I’ve become more effective in my interactions with others and frankly, I like myself a bit more.

So how are you doing at being mindful with yourself? How could the right kind of “playing around in your mind” help you become a better person who can lead others better? What steps can you take now to settle into a mindful routine that helps you learn, grow, and become a better leader? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
———————–
Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+GROW | Website

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