The Almighty Dollar

Businesses that have the singular goal of making money are very poor businesses indeed. 

They are also businesses that won’t be around very long. Businesses that survive long-term have leadership that understands no matter what business they are in, they are also in the people business. 

It’s people who make the products the business sells. It’s people who sell the products the business makes. It’s people who buy the products the business sells. It’s people who supply the profits the business needs to survive. 

Business Leaders who lose sight of those facts run the risk of losing, actually the likelihood, of losing the entire business. 

Authentic Leaders never lose site of those facts. They keep their people, employees and customers alike, at the top of their organizational charts. Leaders who put The Almighty Dollar at the top of their organizational chart, even subconsciously, create disengaged employees and disgruntled customers. 

Businesses that chase The Almighty Dollar see every dollar spent as an expense. Businesses that put people first see many of those dollars as an investment in people. They see investing in people as the surest way to generate more long-term profitability. 

Businesses that only chase dollars have never seen a corner they couldn’t cut. They will cut expenses anywhere they can, all in the name of profits. They would rather make a dollar today than two dollars tomorrow. 

To be clear, chasing dollars is very different than prudent expense management. Expense management is done for the benefit of the stakeholders and the shareholders. Cutting corners most often benefits only the shareholders. It most often comes at the expense of the stakeholders. Stakeholders, if you’re not familiar with the term are primarily the employees and customers of a business. 

The challenge for businesses is to make sure that their expense management, done for the benefit of all, doesn’t turn into cost cutting done for the benefit of some. That happens when the leadership of a business doesn’t have strong core principles that put people first. 

For businesses that chase only dollars product quality is a corner to be cut. For businesses that chase only dollars customer service is a corner to be cut. For businesses that chase only dollars employee development is a corner to be cut.  

Many business leaders simply don’t understand that each one of those cuts, made in the name of The Almighty Dollar, actually make it less likely that the business can remain profitable long-term. 

Businesses don’t just need people to survive and thrive. They need engaged people. Employees who care and customers who are loyal. “Cutting” doesn’t accomplish that. 

There has never been a business that saved or cut their way to long-term success. Success over time requires investment in people. It requires a willingness to perhaps, and only perhaps, sacrifice today’s profit to make triple the profit tomorrow. 

Long- term success requires long-term thinking.

If you’re a business leader today then you need to know your people are watching…ALL of your people, employees AND customers. They want to know if you care about them as people or if all you care about is the profit they can bring you. 

There is a tipping point. People, whether they be employees or customers, will try to help an organization right itself if it loses sight of how important people are. 

But they only do that for a time. If they determine the business is not open to their help then they do something different. Committed employees leave and potentially loyal customers take their business elsewhere. 

The final lesson the business learns is that when enough people leave The Almighty Dollar follows them right out the door. 

Are you Really Leading?

Most, and yes I definitely mean most, most “leaders” I know are not leaders at all. They have a title or position that fools them, and a few others, into thinking they are a leader but upon a little examination they are not a leader at all.

While a leader in name only can fool some people into believing they are a leader they rarely if ever fool the people they think they are leading. People looking for Authentic Leadership can spot a fake leader from a mile away.

But here’s one of the things I find most interesting about leadership. Leaders in name only often have no idea that they aren’t really leading. Not only can they fool other people, they can even fool themselves. 

So how can someone in a leadership position tell if they are in fact leading? Well take a look around. If no one is following you then you’re not leading. Period. 

No matter how lofty your position or important sounding your title leaders lead people. If people are not following you then you may be managing a business but you’re not leading. 

So let’s say you take a quick look over your shoulder and you see a bunch of people. Even that doesn’t mean you’re an Authentic Leader. Take a closer look. Who is following you? If the people “following” you all have the same favorite word then you may not be a leader. If that word is “yes” then you’re most certainly not a leader. 

Authentic Leaders attract a higher caliber of people than leaders in name only. They are followed by people who are not afraid to speak truth to leadership. Authentic Leaders are a magnet for people with authentic leadership aspirations of their own. 

Authentic Leaders challenge their followers to continuously improve and their followers challenge them back to do the same. 

Authentic Leaders are also great followers. So consider for a moment who it is you’re following. Who do you know? I don’t mean following on Facebook or some other social media platform. I mean who do you really know? Who are your mentors? Who can you have a face to face conversation with? Who can you learn from? Who leads you? Who is pushing you to improve? Who is invested in helping you grow as a leader?

You can learn a lot in a book, blog, or video but leadership is a close personal contact operation. You need to follow and interact with real people who will help you grow. People who will tell you the truth about yourself and who will keep you on the path towards Authentic Leadership. 

If you have short comings in any of those areas then you have opportunity to improve as a leader, or maybe, even become an Authentic Leader for the first time. 

Either way, the self-improvement process for a leader begins with the question… Am I really leading?