The golden rule can help keep you centered as you pursue success.
The Golden Rule states, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The essence of the principle is that we should treat everyone with the same universal respect and goodwill that we want extended to ourselves.
In reverse, this does not mean that if someone treats you terribly that they are setting an example of how they would like to be treated. How often have you thought or heard, "If that's how they are going to treat me then they are going to get the same (or worse) right back." When faced with ill treatment our natural response is to get defensive and even to retaliate. Such reciprocal action drags ourselves away from our values. Taking the higher road is a commitment to operate with high standards regardless of the results.
This does not mean that we endure or allow abuse. We also want to set a standard of both how we will treat others as well as how we expect them to treat us. The golden rule should not be manipulated by others to enable them to trample over you as a person and a professional. In a business setting this can be a helpful tool when a team member is being mishandled by a client. "Dear client, our company works hard to follow the golden rule and would request that you do the same. If we cannot treat each other with this universal standard of respect then we will have to rethink our working relationship."
Applying the golden rule requires us to empathize with those we are serving. We should be asking how this person thinks, perceives the relationship and would like to be treated. We want to be considered as individuals as do those we interact with. Taking time to listen, observe and apply the knowledge that we gain enables us to adapt to optimize our personal as well as professional relationships.
As Jim Collins noted in Good To Great, you need to get the right people on the bus [your organization] and you need to ensure they are in the right seats on the bus. When it is difficult to find people at all, growth minded businesses understand the value of investing in developing internal talent. Investing in the employees you have can produce significant return on investment.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or a person in a position of leadership at the helm of a large organization, attracting good talent starts with:
Key to Success: Process
Process. Culture and systems have to be in sync with each other for a company to succeed. While culture is a hot topic, it is more about what an organization does than what it says it will do. It is important for entrepreneurs and leadership teams to review whether their processes are in alignment with their vision. If there are setbacks to growth, a good place to start would be in reviewing the processes that are in place. Developing systems helps to ensure that there is consistency in your organization. Clarifying expectations helps team members to understand what they need to do in order to succeed. Communicating processes that are consistent with the vision enable everyone to see where they can help move things forward.
Key to Success: Production
Production. A company has to produce goods and/or services. Having the right people and processes completes the cycle of needs to ensure an organization will create value through production. Production issues help to reveal shortcomings in processes. Often failure helps us to better see areas we can improve than success does. Be sure to embrace the opportunity to grow as a leader and a team. Production, process and people all work together to create progress. If you are struggling to make progress start to work backwards to determine areas that need to be addressed.
Here is a good resources from EOS on how to trace down issues and establish better meetings:
Key to Success: Progress
Progress. Having the right people, developing your processes and improving production are all keys to success. There is no guarantee for success. There are no short cuts to success. Leaders can learn a lot from gardening on how to cultivate a growing team. In an article published with Restoration and Remediation Magazine, we identified keys to change for withering grass, flowering weeds and crab grass within an organization. Like a flourishing garden, growth in an organization is attractive and creates a sense of pride. If we invest in our people, process and production we will find that progress is much more attainable. As the organization moves forward together it is easier to identify and address areas of the company that need to be adjusted. Progress is not perfection. Progress means we are gaining on our goals.
We often glamorize stories like The Wolf of Wall Street. Leonardo DiCaprio who plays the notorious ring leader of the Stratton Oakmont, Jordan Belfort. Stratton was expelled by the NASD in 1996. Belfort was indicted for securities fraud and money laundering in 1999. During it’s heyday, the company employed over 1,000 stockbrokers. One of these stockbrokers was Richard Bronson who shares his story in the video below. Bronson was charged with financial crimes and served two years in prison. As noted by the creators of the video, Freethink,
“While incarcerated, his eyes were opened to the inequities prisoners faced – and how daunting re-entry to society was. He decided to do something about it. He started the website 70 million jobs, with the aim of getting everyone leaving prison not only employment, but a career.”
The difficulty for felons to find a job
Finding a job can be difficult enough. Finding a job with a criminal record can seem almost impossible for most ex-felons working to reintegrate back into society. Bronson’s organization 70 Million Jobs works to be a reliable resource for those looking to improve their employment opportunities. Felons can find help with resumes and finding local job listings from companies ready to hire applicants with a criminal background. In and interview with Forbes Magazine, Bronson is asked why he believes that felon’s should be given a second chance. Richard responds,
Having lived with hundreds of men in prison, I observed that as people they were no better or worse than those I knew on the outside. Mostly, they were folks who had very few options in life, and followed the path that others around them were following.
Advantages of giving jobs to felons
In the article and on his organization’s website, Bronson notes that there are some advantages when employers take a chance on an applicant with a criminal background:
Providing jobs for felons reduces recidivism
Recidivism refers to the likelihood that someone who has been incarcerated for a crime will return to those circumstances. The rates of recidivism are very high. Working together at the federal, state and community level to create opportunities for ex-felons is a benefit to all in society. Groups like 70 Millon Jobs and United Purpose Network are hard at work to promote resources for recycling lives. Richard speaks to the value of investing in opportunities for those with a criminal past:
Recidivism costs cities like Los Angeles tens of billions of dollars annually, destroys lives and families, erodes society, to say nothing of the impact on the new victims. We think that progressive cities and states are recognizing the economics of recidivism and are looking for business solutions. That’s our big opportunity over time. Employment is the silver bullet.
Originally published by The Felon Toolbox
Identity, honesty and adaptability are key to growing as a professional as well as an organization.
Having a clear sense of identity is important for leaders and organizations. In the play Hamlet, William Shakespeare speaking through Polonius provides this fatherly advice, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” A clear identity enables leaders and teams to be honest with each other as they seek to compete in business. Honesty among individuals as well as within teams facilitates real time adaptability to changes in the market that are critical to sustained success.
Let’s break down the quote from Polonius to peel through the layers that will enhance our growth mindset:
1. “This above all else…”
You must prioritize. There’s isn’t enough time, money or resources to do everything. There are limits and they can demotivate you or force you to take the smartest risks you can imagine. To activate your growth mindset you cannot lose touch with reality, you must learn the ever evolving terrain, rules, resources and limitations. Again, reality is not the enemy, it is essential to growth.
Author of Organizational Physics, Lex Sisney, has composed Three Covenants of operating agreements to help teams maximize input and buy in. Covenant 3 states, “The goal is frank and honest discussion of the facts before a decision is made, followed by total commitment to implementing the solution after the decision is made.” Those in a position of leadership do well to understand that they need as broad a net of inputs as possible from within as well as without their team.
Failure to listen to those who are in the field distributing your products or services, those frontline employees, is cutting your organization off from valuable perspectives. Leaders also must understand that conflict does not have to be negative. Creating an open forum where ideas flow without filters requires the allowance of dissension. The team can create healthy boundaries for discussion to remain civil while making clear the timeline for disagreement and the expectation of buy in once the decision is made. As Sisney put it, “Put another way, it’s OK to question a decision up front but it’s not OK to fight it or ignore it during implementation.”
2. “To thine own self…”
Organizations that struggle with their identify will struggle to clarify their value proposition in the market place. Organizational culture and identity sound like such lofty concepts but they are merely reflections of the teams day to day actions and the identity of the leadership. Your company culture is what you do. Your organizational identity often mirrors that of your leadership. We make culture and identity abstract when we try to create them rather than recognize what they are and then optimize them.
In The Real Life MBA, Jack and Suzy Welch write, “The only reason to talk about behaviors at work is that leaders need be very public, very clear, and very consistent about what kind of behaviors are needed in order to achieve the company’s mission.” Leaders must lead by example, it should be the working definition of leadership but often it falls short of action. When those in a position of leadership understand themselves they free up capacity to find and build other leaders who will round out the team needs so that the mission can move forward. When leaders don’t understand themselves they often lead by fear and hold the team back from reaching its potential.
Clarity comes from truth. Collaboration comes from a willingness to receive input. By combining clarity with collaboration, leaders, teams and organizations will unlock the capacity to compete.
3. “Be true…”
There is an emphasis on authenticity which is important for individuals as well as organizations. Yet, if you are failing or heading towards decline, it takes a strong person to admit they need assistance. In the rapidly evolving market everyone must be acutely aware that what worked last month may not net the same result this month. The need to adapt and adjust to the market is constant. Failure to recognize this reality is a recipe for certain failure.
Our values should be set in stone, in so far as they reflect our ethics and core culture, but our approach to the needs of our clients must be fluid. Lex Sisney shares more on how we remain true to ourselves and yet flexible, “If you want to scale your business successfully — without sacrificing innovation, core values, or execution speed as things get more complex — you’ll need to design on principles, not policies.” Good leadership recognizes the survival of the fittest, which isn’t so much that the strongest and richest survive but those who most adaptable to their surroundings. Recent history has shown how industry giants have been toppled by rigidity and replaced by entities that were willing to change their approach with the fluctuations of the market.
Being yourself and building an authentic company are not unreachable philosophical dreams. A leader who is listening will reap the benefits of real time feedback so that their team can adjust course expediently. Jack and Suzy Welch address innovation in this way, “It can and should be a continual, ongoing, normal thing. It can be and should be a mindset that has every employee at every level of the organization thinking as they walk in the door every morning, “I’m going to find a better way to do my job today.” Leaders who understand themselves can create teams and cultures that thrive. Competing in the market requires a strong identity with adaptability. My father in law wisely calls this rigid flexibility. Stay true to your core and nimble enough to adjust to the tides. Have a vision, work tirelessly to execute on your mission but don’t get so transfixed that you are unable to adapt.
Maintain rigid flexibility as you clarify your identify, build an authentic culture and adapt through collaboration.
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