What does the Presidential Inauguration Have to Do with Building a Wealthy Business? — Only Everything
A journalist from a reputable New York based publication recently contacted me. He wanted to know my opinion about whether it was sensible for business leaders to allow their employees to watch the Presidential Inauguration. What would be the impact on workplace productivity?
After I recovered from my frustration, I realized he was asking the wrong question.
The first question he should have asked was, “what is workplace productivity?” And, once we agree on what it is, “how can the Inauguration help or impede productivity?”
In my upcoming book, I spent countless hours interviewing successful companies who have implemented sustainable business practices. These practices have proven to have a direct impact on the productivity of their employees. One of the reasons for their success is that they focus on business endeavors that inspire and uplift other people.
This principle — focusing on business endeavors that uplift and inspire other people–takes its inspiration from another highly influential political strategist – the Dalai Lama. He reminds us that interdependency is an essential part of our flat world:
“The need for love results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another…The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes… Inter-dependence, of course, is a fundamental law of nature…In today’s materialistic society, if you have money and power, you seem to have many friends. But they are not friends of yours; they are the friends of your money and power. When you lose your wealth and influence, you will find it very difficult to track these people down…That is the moment when we learn who is really helpful and who is completely useless. So to prepare for that moment, to make genuine friends who will help us when the need arises, we ourselves must cultivate altruism!”
Nearly ten years ago, several companies who ostensibly had tons of money and power raised our awareness of corporate responsibility (or a lack of it) by getting caught in scandalous activities. Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, and Adelphia were just a few infamous ones.
According to Seventh Generation CEO Jeffrey Hollender, “Enron’s disgraceful demise was a potent–if ironic–argument for the notion that ‘doing good’ is good business.” Hollender continues by reminding us that “the meltdown in the stock market and the credit markets…has drained the swamp and exposed the rot at the core of our financial system. We now see that the Ponzi-like scheming on Wall Street rewarded those who destroyed value; that our obsessive consumerism is ultimately unsustainable.”
Obsessive consumerism in the workplace can often appear as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Even when your company is reporting record profits and rapid new customer acquisition, you may be a hotbed of poor employee morale. You may be ignoring a key element of developing a truly wealthy company–inspiring a sense of pride and ownership among your teams and business allies. Stay aware of the warning signs, such as sudden attrition of your best performers, persistent customer complaints, and unsolicited concerns from employees who fear retribution.
As you consider this upcoming monumental day–possibly the most significant Presidential inauguration in our lifetime–ask yourself two questions:
1. How can my company practice kindness and generosity by allowing my teams to witness this event? 2. How will these small actions truly impact my company’s wealth in the long term?
Perhaps the next generation of journalists will help us re-define productivity once and for all.
Enjoy January 20th and the historic events surrounding it.
Copyright 2009, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.