May 17, 2011
One of the founders of the Washington Speakers Bureau, Bernie Swain, is working on a book about the legacy of the lecture industry and what life teaches us if we listen and learn from each other. Contributors will include Condoleezza Rice, Peter Ueberroth, and Lee Iacocca. I am honored that Bernie asked me to contribute with a short business leadership story, and here is an excerpt from what I wrote for his upcoming book:
“I have found that great businesses begin with a higher ideal that inspires employees and customers. I have gradually discovered this over the course of my career, and through my extensive research.
A higher ideal, or purpose, is the higher-order benefit a business, or brand, gives to the world. It must actively improve life. It must be steeped in the business’s heritage. And, the entire business system – from product or service innovation to human resources to measurement – must emanate from the ideal.
I knew this implicitly when I was in my various jobs during high school, college, and just after college. I now explicitly practice an ideals-based approach to business, and I help others practice it. I have found this rapidly accelerates growth. Think Apple, Louis Vuitton, Pampers, Visa, Natura, Red Bull, Chipotle, Discovery Channel. Amazing businesses, amazing growth rates, amazing higher ideals.
There is one catch – this takes leaders who are ideals-based, who inspire people, who are emotionally intelligent, who are whole brained, who are courageous and decisive. We need more leaders like this. I work every day to be a better leader, learning from others, trying to continually improve. That is what makes business endlessly fascinating and challenging.”