Ethics is asking the right questions

Ethicability

I have just finished reading Ethicability by Roger Steare – the ‘corporate philosopher’ who researches and writes on ethics in business.

It is an amazingly inspiring book that really makes you analyse the kind of actions and decisions you take in business, and why you take them.

The definition of ‘ethicability’, which is also the strapline for the book, is ‘how to decide what’s right and find the courage to do it’.

But it’s not a dogmatic book at all – it just helps you find your own moral direction. In business, maybe more so than in personal life, doing what’s right isn’t always easy, which is why we need to be in touch with our own sense of personal and social responsibility. Roger Steare recommends we should be constantly, consciously improving our integrity, that is personal qualities such as courage, humility and patience.

He divides our ‘drivers’ into three. First is our personal conscience, our inner sense of right and wrong and the values that guide us most of the time. He then points out that we often reserve our best behaviour for certain people, our nearest and dearest, and apply different values to people outside that circle.

This is where the second driver, social conscience comes in – keeping an eye on the bigger picture and trying to be aware of how our behaviour affects everyone involved in our lives and our work. It’s this that, for example, would make people decide to pay tax rather than avoid it, even though legal loopholes offer that option, because they want to make a fair contribution to their community.

This brings me to the third driver, ‘rule compliance’, which also guides a lot of what we do. Like the other two, when this is taken to an extreme it becomes harmful. A famous experiment showed 63 per cent of people were happy to give a lethal electric shock to someone simply because they were told to. This demonstrated the sinister effect of a society with too many rules – we give up our sense of personal and social responsibility.

Ideally we would be guided by what Steare calls the ‘Philosopher’s Golden Rule’ – where we ask ourselves the question: how would I feel in that person’s situation? Then add the ‘Philosopher’s Golden Mean’ where we decide for ourselves what would be fair and reasonable.

Overall this book encourages you to ask yourself the right questions when making decisions. I found it very inspiring, and I really agree with it – I strongly believe that what goes around comes around, and just because we are in business and trying to make a profit, we shouldn’t be doing it at the expense of anyone else’s welfare.

It’s important to do well in business, but it’s also important to be a good person and do the right thing – knowing you are doing the right thing brings a lot of confidence and self-respect.

I would highly recommend Ethicability both as a book and also as a business philosophy.

The Awesome Attitudes of Positive Regard and Genuineness

genuineness-stamp-550pxls

Introducing Amanda Downs!  Amanda is a sales and business growth expert who has very kindly offered to be The Thousandaire Club’s first guest blogger.  Thank you Amanda 🙂

Amanda’s business, Sales GROWTH Expert, provides sales-strategy facilitation, sales-leader mentoring and sales-leadership skills training to businesses that are ready to grow.

We don’t just live differently from our parents’ generation, we work differently too.

Look back twenty or thirty years and it can often seem as though so much has changed. In the 21st century everything from the way we shop to how we consume information and breaking news is different to a generation ago. Another major change to come about in recent years has been the significant shift in workplace management and operations. Businesses everywhere are looking for ways to improve employee satisfaction and retention, adding flexibility to offices that were once ruled by an iron fist and allowed no such thing.

The way we work now – despite all the jargon surrounding flexible working, hot-desking, patchwork careers etc – means that we’re placing more emphasis on getting results from a working population that is increasingly having to be technologically savvy whilst simultaneously juggling multiple work and family stresses.

The approach we take to leading our business will make or break its results, and not just for sales teams, but for everyone involved, too. The days of the ‘command and control’ leader are gone. Leaders need to release the reins and lead collaboratively.

Without exception, the two attitudes critical to sales leadership that I train and coach at every opportunity, and that have had the most profound effect on my own leadership approach, are these:

  • Positive Regard
  • Genuineness

These are taken from the Liberating Leadership model, developed by Ali Stewart, which teaches how to lead and develop people – it’s based on 25 years of research into what high performing leaders actually do to get great results through their teams.

Attitude of Positive Regard

Having an attitude of Positive Regard is a way of accepting and supporting someone, as a fellow human being, no matter what they say or do. It’s an attitude of non-judgment and non-assumption about someone that can give them the freedom to be who they are without the fear of loss of your esteem for them. It doesn’t mean you have to like them, or approve of what they do – it just means that you respect them as human beings and their right to self-determination.

Simply put, Positive Regard means that you approach every situation, and the person involved, with a positive spin. Here’s what you mean when you say you have Positive Regard:

  • “I respect this person as a human being.”
  • “This person’s position and view of the world is valid.”
  • “This person is trying to do their best, and expects the same from me.”
  • “So…I’m going to work to understand the situation, and this person’s view of it, so that we can get the best possible result for us both.”

Having this attitude really works in teams, and especially with your customers. It comes from a counselling approach called Unconditional Positive Regard, a term coined by Carl Rogers, the creator of person-centred counselling and one of the founders of humanistic therapy.
 
When you take on an attitude of Unconditional Positive Regard, you can use it as a growth strategy for the people you lead. It allows them freedom; it can foster new ideas; it can increase the chances that your team will bring their best to work. And it can increase the strong likelihood that you’ll bring your best self to work, too.

Attitude of Genuineness

The Attitude of Genuineness, once we are approaching a situation with Positive Regard, is about being honest and open about your view, as well as giving valuable conditional feedback.

A lot of being a successful business owner is about building trust with your clients and customers. Genuineness is such a huge part of this because people want to feel as though you are authentic and honest – a real person.  When people view you this way, they feel more connected and trusting of you. This also means that they will be more likely to hire you, as well as support and promote you. Genuineness is integral to your business branding and ensures that you retain your customers’ trust.

Here’s what you subscribe to when you have an Attitude of Genuineness:

  • “I get where you are coming from, and this is my truthful opinion.”
  • “I give you my feedback with the intent that it will help this situation to be even better.”
  • “So…in a customer scenario, we give genuine answers when a customer asks a question or has a problem. We don’t blag, make it up or say what we think the customer wants to hear.”

Attitude is as important as having the right skills. When your attitude is one of Positive Regard and Genuineness then you are certain to be of help. You know the right things to ask your customers or your team, or to say nothing at the right moment!

You’re never too small for good KPI’s

Measure Success

When you start a business, you tend to make decisions by following your nose.

You take the advice of the last person you spoke to, you follow courses of action that seem like the most interesting, and you most likely live from hand to mouth.

While you’re finding your business feet, that’s fine. However, sooner or later you have to move into a way of running your business that is actually a bit more – well – businesslike.

I’ve discovered that it’s almost impossible to run a serious, profitable business without Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and, if you’ve been in business for more than a year or two and you don’t have these, the chances are you’re artificially keeping yourself and your business in the ‘start-up’ phase.

KPI provides a snapshot of what your business will look like, in terms of hard figures, when you achieve your current vision. Once this vision is boiled down into specific, reachable goals and next steps, they are fed into your KPI dashboard, where you can track them and monitor what’s going on.

You need a mixture of both ‘lag’ and ‘lead’ indicators – that is, the results you’ve already achieved, and the figures that represent your forecasts or predictions. In other words, you know where you’re going, and you know how much progress you’ve made towards that destination.

For example, KPIs for your profit margin, cash flow, and maybe measurements like customer satisfaction rates, or staff performance. The performance indicators you choose to measure should be those that indicate the results you’re looking for – that is, they are ‘key’.

They can be represented by graphs, spreadsheets, or pie charts. If they’re going to be made public in some way, you can use percentages rather than pounds and pence, to preserve confidentiality.

If running a KPI dashboard sounds like something only huge, corporate businesses might do, don’t be fooled. Whatever the size of your business, you need to have your finger on its pulse. Your KPIs could cover one side of a sheet of A4 paper – they’re still an invaluable part of your business success.

Or to put it another way, when you’re running a business, you need to define where you’re going, plan how you’re going to get there, track your progress and report back to yourself on how it’s going.

If you’ve got anything to add on KPIs, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your comment below.

How to waste time – perfectly

Plant

I’ve been spending time recently reflecting on my previous blog about overcoming perfectionism and I have realised that perfectionism is time-consuming.

It eats away at our time with a pretence of helping us to produce a perfect piece of work – if that is even possible?

Yes, we all want to produce good quality work, but we need to also ask ourselves a few key questions:

  • Can your clients afford to wait? What are their expectations?
  • Can you afford to spend the time perfecting something when new projects, clients and products are calling for your attention?
  • Do we spend so long perfecting one thing that the results are missed opportunities, tight deadlines, and stress?

I believe that we need to be more natural with the work we are doing.

Look at the natural world around you – even the pot plant on your desk – everything is in a permanent cycle of creation, growth, death and rebirth and crucially, nothing stays still.  Life is characteristically a little messy and unpredictable.  Nature never worries about perfection and neither should we.

That doesn’t mean we don’t work hard, or aspire to put our best foot forward at all times, but we should be kind to ourselves, and nurture our nature.

 

Don’t let hiccups knock you down

Resilience

I know from experience how wonderful business highs can be, but how dreadful business lows can make me feel.  Over the years I have learnt one critical thing however – the highs and the lows will come; they are both inevitable; that’s life!  Business, like life, will sometimes throw you a curve ball.  What I now try and remember when my curve balls come is that it is not the curve ball that creates the problem, it is how I react to the curve ball that creates the problem.

Like life, dealing with the happy times when everything is going well, is easy.  We don’t even need to try, do we?  But, having the self-awareness, strategies and strength to deal with the bad times can me much harder.  It is the same in business.  It is easy to deal with the good stuff, getting new clients, doubling your turnover, running a successful marketing campaign etc.  But it is how we deal with the bad stuff that makes or breaks both us as business owners and our business itself.  We need to be resilient.  We need what I call ‘bouncebackability’.

I am currently writing about what I have learned about resilience over the years that I have been in business.  I would love to know what you think creates resilience in you? How do you cope with your business lows?  What resilience strategies do you use?

Is perfectionism hobbling your business growth?

perfectionparalysis

When is good good enough for you? What holds up your projects? Do you hang onto pieces of work because they’re ‘not quite there yet’?

I heard a piece of advice recently, which was useful, if a little bit hard to swallow for a perfectionist like me: it’s ok to be ‘good enough’.

Moving your business forward requires agility, courage and the ability to launch your projects and ventures when the time is right – not when everything has been perfected.

The truth, painful as it is for perfectionists, is that you can’t be perfect. You can’t. Impossible. Sorry. In fact, if you’re doing something for the first time, which means you’re taking a leap into the unknown, your best efforts might not be that great at all. How could they be, when you don’t have any experience of what a success might even look like?

True innovation means you give your projects your best shot, and accept that until you release them into the wild (because that’s how it feels sometimes!) and see how they fare, you’re in the dark. And if the results are less than perfect, you don’t waste time beating yourself up. Just accept that you are where you’re at, you’re doing your best and you’re learning all the time – which means you’re now in a position to keep improving.

When you’re running a micro business you can’t be an expert in everything, and you probably can’t afford to hire experts to do everything either, so you’re on a learning curve.

So get on with that learning, and let go of the idea that you have to be great at everything the first time round. You can’t afford to hold up your business progress by holding off on progress until you think your projects are ‘perfect’.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how to overcome perfectionism…..

Team vs Time Machine

time-machine

 

Having just started writing my chapter on building your team around you, I was sat at my desk trying to find a good analagy to use and an image of a time machine popped into my head. Wowser! What a revelation!

As a micro business owner  wouldn’t it be wonderful if you owned a time machine? You could work for a client all day and then go back and do it all over again for another client, then again, and again, until your productivity and earning potential reached your wildest dreams? You would be exhausted of course, and nothing much else would be happening in your life, but your bank balance would look extremely healthy.

Or, you could build a team around you that would effectively do the same thing with a lot less effort from you. In a way your team is your time machine. Taking the time and making the effort to effectively recruit new team members will reap the same rewards.

Sounds good doesn’t it? Your very own time machine without all of the travelling backwards and forwards in time stuff. You would be a Thousandaire in no time at all!

Assuming you don’t want to time travel that is? 😀