Many years ago I was a manager for a company in the midst of change. Not only did the digital revolution deeply affect our business, but then the internet came along and changed the way people bought things and that turned our company upside down. One day, the owner and the CFO asked if they could speak with me, the Sales Manager. We went into a conference room and sat down. They asked me what was wrong, what did I think was the problem with the downturn of the company and what might be a solution (to what I now realize was drastic change in our industry and in business overall).
My response had to do with their postures. They were both hunkered over, folded over on themselves, arms wrapped around their bodies like fearful old grandmas. I am not proud of the way I said it, remember, this was many years ago and I am sure this was part of my own learning experience, but in essence I was bringing the focus to them as the leaders of this company. They did not represent courage, strength and the determination to find a new path for the company to follow and flourish.
What I find now, 20 years later is just the same. There will always be change of some sort. Presently, we are witnessing large corporate takeovers and mergers that replace mom and pop stores. We see investment companies owning industries they know nothing about operating strictly for the bottom line profit. Megalithic companies that squeeze the vendors of any appreciable profit, offer consumers cheap products and treat their employees as dispensable don’t set the tone for inspired leadership or inspired anything.
For long term, sustainable growth and viability, engaging the employees is necessary. Inspiring creative teamwork and solution making, offering a way of life as opposed to a life of work, generating an environment that fosters the safety to produce innovative and revolutionary products and services are what needs to happen for dynamic growth. And that can be led and directed by an inspired, motivated, engaged and invested leader. This central authority, whether it is one individual or a team of leaders, holds the vision, the standards of integrity and values of the company and so no matter what happens in the outside world, the company as an entity can shift and mold itself taking those values and visions with them. As Margaret Wheatley in her book Leadership and the New Science says,“When an organization knows who it is, what its strengths are and what it is trying to accomplish it can respond intelligently to changes from its environment.”
People want to be heard, they want to have a voice, they care about their quality of life, not just a paycheck. It is time to answer that call with inspired leadership.