I’ve gotten to know a fellow better. I’ve sat next to him at a few business meetings and, a couple of weeks ago, we killed some time at the airport together. I have long known that he is financially very successful. I figured it was because he was always crunching numbers. Crunch, crunch, crunch. It caused self-doubt. I have never focused on the bottom-line like I know he does. Oh, I know its role. But it’s not the leading actor. Or is it? Back to self-doubt.
However, academia has addressed this doubt. According to recent survey of 520 business organizations in 17 countries and as reported in the December 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review, making the bottom line your top priority may not be the best way to improve profitability. The research shows that CEOs who put stakeholders’ interests ahead of profits generate greater workforce engagement – and thus deliver the superior financial results that they have made a secondary goal.
The researchers were testing the hypothesis that if a CEO’s primary focus is on profit maximization, employees develop negative feelings toward the organization. They tend to perceive the CEO as autocratic and focused on the short term, and they report being less willing to sacrifice for the company. Corporate performance is poorer as a result.
Like many of you I’m confronted by staff, both individually and collectively, with questions. Unless I can respond with an operational answer, I simply say “Do what’s right.” It’s worked for over 20 years – most of them profitable. I’ve been right all along. I just needed to be reminded of it.
P.S – Strictly from a financial perspective, airports remain the wrong place to drink. And that’s the bottom line.