What happens when a person becomes set in their ways, stops trying out new things like different kinds of food to eat and expects everyone to treat them the same as they always have because they were successful early in their careers but have not accomplished anything remotely great lately?
They fade away.
Sustainability has its origins in the human condition. We as people are constantly evolving. That is why our businesses cannot remain static. Growth is predicated on change for the better. If we can change for the better as individuals we can produce the kinds of changes in our professions that become permanent markers of our capability.
People remember people. People remember businesses. But businesses cannot remember people. This is because people build and grow their businesses. The ability to take something like a business and breathe life into it is an example of empathy—the kind whereby a person is able to take something inanimate like a business and cause it to emote, and yes, feel.
Do you treat your business inanimately or as a human partner capable of experiencing the emotional highs and lows that we as people do all the time?
Crazy as it sounds, those folks who are most passionate about themselves are able to take control of businesses and extend vigor to them. These particular leaders know just what it takes to motivate themselves and others. They hire the right kinds of people to do the jobs no one else can seem to do. And they are rewarded by the people they hire in the form of job performance that sets them apart from their peers at competitors.
Are leaders born or are they made? That is the age old question. I would suggest that leaders know when to lead and when to lay back, give someone else a chance and consequently change the course of things for the better. This is accomplished when someone who otherwise would not be capable of marshaling the kinds of forces that constitute the proverbial cultural shifts in companies that are as elusive as Bigfoot, does just that. Today’s somebody who was never noticed somewhere else suddenly becomes the superstar who gets it all done better than everyone else, once in their new digs featuring truly supportive leaders.
It happens all the time; but only at companies where the leaders already in place know when to let those in their charge run freely with the ball. These thought leaders (sorry LinkedIn) are at companies you haven’t heard of before but are now coming into our consciousness by virtue of their progressive nature—they do things that truly empower and promote, the people who work in their companies.
The too big to fail adage applied to Wall Street banking institutions at the time of the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008, really did a disservice to those companies who were too small to fail. Read that again if you must. Once you do, you’ll understand that small companies were penalized because of the fact big banks and companies were bailed out and they were not.
Big companies were once small. They formerly did not have the layers upon layers of people who insulate leaders and the workers beneath them, from each other. Too big is too big, too inefficient, too staid, too set in its ways, too afraid to try new things and too reliant on long since past achievements in too distant eras.
People and companies who grow too big, too soon and without fostering environments where the people responsible for growth can move into new roles with greater authority and responsibility, suffer the consequences that is cruel fate. This disposition awaits anyone and everyone who decides their way is the way it has always been and always will be. The smugness of superiority fades away quickly when something fresh, new, invigorating and dare I say it, interesting, comes along. Innovation is only a word when there is no action to speak of that backs it up.
When there is nothing where there once was something big…
Lead, follow, get the hell out of the way…
Or just f-f-fa-fade away, if you insist on staying the course that sinks you like a stone.