Are Two Common Elements Missing Today?
Seems these days are creating a new “norm” that is not so present. My points were amplified based upon two things – working the business world for almost 40 years and reflecting upon a solitary business leader I knew very well.
First, the solitary business leader was my grandfather. This month I will be attending a presentation honoring my granddad – Volney Voss Whittington – as he was selected to the Bossier High School Hall of Fame. Now, a high school hall of fame may not sound exciting to some, to me it typifies the diversity of his work and the many honors and friends he developed during the years.
His list of accomplishments would take over this post of information, so let me focus upon what he taught me as a young man who looked up to him for guidance and advice. He built his reputation and respect based upon honesty, integrity, using common sense, knowing how much character controlled actions, and common courtesy. He was not about power and politics – he understood their importance – yet, he based his life on performance and getting things done – often with others.
While I was fortunate to learn lessons from a great leader of people and business, it seems so many of the points he used to be successful are lost today. The two big ones seemingly missing in action today are common sense and common courtesy. Both of these terms or elements begin with the word “common” implying something else has replaced the word common.
I believe there is another C word being used today – Complexity. Things are getting more complex and getting a simple answer today from a business or a business person is difficult. Business leaders today do not have – or do not make time- to discuss issues or possible solutions with others. They may hire a consulting firm for seven figures to solve a problem which usually creates another hundred problems due to a lack of understanding of any uniqueness of the history or how a business became a business.
My thought for the day is for business leaders to take the time to reflect upon what got them to the point they are today. What strengths helped them, who else provided strengths or assistance during the climb, and to whom should you be grateful today for help, guidance or participation during the growth of your business? Reflection is a time of growth – gaining clarity upon what got you in the dance, who your dance partners were, and what new steps did you learn while dancing with these partners?
Going back to the two missing elements in today’s business world.
First, common sense used to drive our economy and our growth. It seems other things have moved ahead of common sense – like greed, profit at all costs, and being like everyone else. Greed usually houses a lack of integrity and possible injustices both legally and morally. Profit is a good thing, unless it is the only thing that matters to a business leader. Then decisions are made with a very limited point of view – usually missing the mark and forgetting about the little things that got you where you are today. And, finally the point of being like everyone else. This is not the way of leaders. Real and true leaders understand the point of being different and unique in the market place. This element creates the concept of leader. Being a follower is helpful sometimes, yet, leaders are ones out front leading their “troops” into new territories.
Second, the missing element of “Common Courtesy” is all over the place. Excuses such as “I don’t have enough time, I meant to get back to them or I already know about what they want to talk about.” Really? The trait of mindreading is a new one and I guess I need to work on it. I do know my wife can “read me like a book” and occasionally gets into to my mind, yet, I did not know it was a common thing.
People need to be more “people-oriented” and use courtesy in their everyday life. From driving in traffic to returning phone messages. In the old days, we had secretaries, receptionist and assistants to guide us through the people oriented needs of business life. They would tell us to call certain people and why we should. It was a people, trust and respect thing guided by a “people person.” Today, secretaries, receptionists and assistants have been replaced by voice mail, email and in some cases – no connection at all within the business environment. Hiding behind a world of technology and filtering systems that keep people away from other people.
Now, before you believe I must be some kind of perfectionist, I will be the first to say I have been caught up in the world of filter systems and technology systems. In fact, I am seeing both sides of the issues. I have to confess I don’t like to talk to cold calling sales people today. Yet, I began my consulting business – cold calling on business leaders – as a new guy in town. However, back then, these business leaders showed courtesy by calling back and discussing their business issues with me. Sometimes I could help and others I could not. The key point is we had a dialogue as two peers. Today, if someone doesn’t know who you are, most will not return a call. Interesting concept.
Okay, so here is my offer. I will take the time to talk to sales people who call me. Especially the ones who have gone to my website and learned about us before calling. And, if I call you this week or next, I will have researched who you are before I call. I or we could have a solution to the problems or issues that are keeping you up at night.
The key for our business leaders is to reflect upon the principles of great leadership. Common sense has to be present for thought processes and reflection regarding what works and doesn’t work well. And, common courtesy needs to be present whether you are visiting a customer, vendor, consultant or your most important assets – your people. As an added bonus, these two elements carry huge benefits when used at home with family and friends.