Magic bullets – in business you see hundreds of them thrown around every day. They show up in books, magazine articles, blog posts, tweets, late night television commercials, and various trade publications. They all have a similar form – do this thing, take this supplement, stop doing x and you will experience magical success. The problem is that there are no killer bullets, but there are things you can do to set yourself up for better long term success:
- Eat less junk.
- Exercise more.
- Sleep at least 7 hours a night.
- Balance your work life with other passions.
- Mediate regularly.
- Read a variety of publications.
- Keep television to a minimum.
- Make friendships a priority.
- Spend more time on strategy, less on tactics.
- Know what your competitors are doing, but don’t let them define who you are.
- Learn from the wisdom of your leaders and fellow workers.
- Coming up with great ideas isn’t enough; putting them into action is the difference maker.
- Don’t get overly hung up on the latest shiny objects.
What do all of these things have in common? First, they are all good for you. Second, they are hard to do. Third, doing them will help you be more successful in life and in business. None of them are magic bullets.
With this discussion out of the way, let’s turn our attention to an issue that could be a game changer for companies that are seeking long-term success. It is a magical trait that has been around for thousands of years. When the work comes up, you may instantly think of people like the Dali Llama or Mother Theresa. It is compassion and finding ways to live with more compassion and infuse your business with more compassion can completely change your approach to hiring, training, treating clients, sourcing product, and serving your local community.
A few days ago I ran into the following TED Talk featuring Chade-Meng Tan talking about how Google has found ways to infuse their business with compassion.
Chade-Meng makes a number of excellent points about the “compassionate business.” But let’s be realistic for a minute – your not Google. The tech giant can afford to play with all sorts of various niceties until they get things right. But there are many things we can adapt to our own businesses:
- Compassion Starts at The Top – Like so much in life, if you want to run a business that is infused with compassion, you must value it and model the behavior in all that you do. Your leadership team and team members key off of your example. This applies to everyone from the CEO down to the front line store or department manager. If you are compassionate, your teams will learn from your example.
- Hire for Compassion – Surround yourself with compassionate people. Always keep in mind that you should be hiring for culture first. Skills can be taught, but values are often so engrained in a person that they are tough to change.
- Promote for Compassion – If you want a compassionate company and teams of people that are striving to be more compassionate, you need to set an example. There’s no better way to do this than to make sure that as opportunities for advancement open up, you are making compassion a key reason why people are promoted. Talk about this value in interviews and openly with your teams.
- Do Things for The Right Reasons – When making decisions, go with your heart. Every business faces times when doing the right thing and short-term profitability are in conflict. Take Howard Schulz’s decision not to cut part time worker’s health benefits while the company faced immense pressure from Wall Street. Schultz stuck to his guns and stayed true to his beliefs that all families deserve to have affordable health care. It was a compassionate decision, one that has a direct impact on the company’s long-term success.
- Empower Your Teams to Act Compassionately – As compassion becomes a key value for your company, your teams will undoubtedly want to get more involved with local causes. You must be prepared to get behind them and help to make a real difference in the lives of others.
Compassion is not a magic bullet, but it might prove to be one of the most power game changers that your business has ever experienced.
Is compassion a value that you embrace? Is it a value that you could add into your business’ current values? How would your team respond if you explicitly embraced this value and made it a priority? What kind of difference could it make in your company and within your local community?