I attempt to mold my boutique executive sales outsourcing firm, Corporate Rain International, as close as possible on a communist archetype. Or at least as close as one can get to that and still be a committed, passionate Ayn Randian capitalist.
This is not the prima facia paradox it seems.
My firm, of course, as all companies, must make money to survive and prosper. But it operates with a dual goal of creating meaning in tandem with making money—the former being the ultimate genesis of the latter.
This is becoming a somewhat less radical notion. This year Harvard Business Review reported a recent longitudinal study conducted by Sigal Barsade and Olivia (Mandy) O’Neill entitled, “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” (HBR Blog online, Jan. 13, 2014) Barsade and O’Neill describe the business efficacy of what they call a culture of “companionate love.” Basically their research shows that employees reported much higher levels of commitment, satisfaction, teamwork, and personal and corporate health in a culture of warmth, safety, and personal growth. (Well, duh, as my daughter would say.)
While this may be much easier to institute in a small company than a large one, it is increasingly being proved out in larger, well-known organizations, as well. Note that John Mackey’s Whole Foods has a set of management principles that simply begin with “Love” and PepsiCo lists “caring” as its first guiding principle on its website. Tony Hsieh’s Zappos states as a core value, “We are more than a team…we are a family. We watch out for each other, care for each other and go above and beyond for each other.” Note also the seminal implementations of Paul Spiegelman’s Return On Values principles at Beryl and now at Stericycle. (“Culture, ROI, and Entrepreneurship”. Oct. 15, 2013)
So, here are my six personal principles for creating what I term a communist capitalist model for corporate health.
- Good is greed. Not greed is good. Good is greed. This is simply a through-branded corporate belief in a raison d’tre of personal growth for each member of the company, as well as to the well-being of the greater world we live in.
- A company of equals. I mean this quite literally. I truly try never to hire anyone who is not better than me. This includes the receptionist. I hire people who I can learn from. I strive to create a flat management culture of decentralization, where each member is her own CEO in a through-branded culture of “micro bosses” under a constantly reinforced rubric of assumed common ethics and a radical orientation of customer care.
- The purpose of the organization is personal growth for all members and clients. Note what is described as “companionate love” by Barsade and O’Neill in the HBR citation above. This includes lovingly encouraging valued executives to move on when they begin to outgrow your firm. I’ve had four corporate VPs of Business Development hired from my cadre of sales executives in 18 years, as well as two successful entrepreneurs, I’m proud of that. All still friends.
- Love. My friend Tim Sanders wrote a wonderful book several years ago called “Love is the Killer App.” That title sums it up pretty well for me. Corporate commitment to this overarching principle effortlessly evinces itself as a specific trope of consistent customer care and service throughout a corporation.
- Giving back. Specific corporate acts of eleemosynary generosity. In my firm’s case, we give away a free three month business development campaign to a small, deserving non-profit each year.
- Lived CEO leadership, example, and guidance. My personal struggle with with addiction eighteen years ago led me to form my company based in strengthening my own principles of recovery. Specifically, I wanted to create a community I could both live in with happiness and satisfaction, and in which I also could be constantly lifted up and buttressed myself in my spiritual “becoming” by a set of kick-ass fellow travelers. I believe bone-deep good leadership is grounded in the permeation of personal values shown in the little consistent everyday acts of each owner and entrepreneur.
Well, that’s quite enough from me this week. Here’s a quote I like from sales wise man Brian Tracy. “If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development.” Thank you, Brian.