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A Better Way to Do Business

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Over the years, there have been numbers of courageous leaders, who like King Arthur, allow Camelot for a while. And then it goes away. I call this the Camelot Phenomenon in business, a time of greatness rooted in an uncharacteristic code of values, destined to fall. Over the years, this experience of victory and loss reminded me of the Sisyphus fable– every rock rolled up the mountain, rolled down when reaching the top. There were arbitrary and undermining effects from other bosses, headquarters, stock analysts or boards of directors who had not endorsed the values. Often, they would discount the legitimacy of unpredictable successes, and suppress further activity. Rarely, did a large enough group of leaders emerge to lead from values and change a corporate system as a whole. The ultimate power for fundamental and enduring change was always placed elsewhere. And many, in power,, and not in power(explain), become instantly aggressive if talk moves away from the hard lines of “what’s on the agenda today?” They were embarrassed to talk about values such as respect, honor, trust etc. Getting people to buy in to what might be seen as “fluffy”” in a hard nosed business environment took patience and persistence, and often didn’t succeed.

Despite the frustrations, I’ve seen dedication to values in corporations make an enormous difference. Consistently the critical values were;

Personal Responsibility for Breakthrough Results:   People honor extraordinary performance.  They promise and deliver breakthrough results, rather than good intentions and business as usual outcomes.  Individuals take themselves as cause in the matter of going beyond normal limits.

Group Alignment:   People are going in the same direction.  There is shared enthusiasm for the goal.  They have shared values and a similar image of the future.  They are in the same boat.

Conflict Resolution:   There is search for common ground and agreement on problems before seeking solution.  People face up to problems and negotiate differences.  They attempt to discover and meet each other’s underlying interests, insofar as possible.

Positive Relationship:   People know what others care about.  They practice openness, direct speaking, generous listening, co-invention and dialogue.  They feel safe to express themselves.

Future Focus:   People suspend assumptions, they speculate and inquire.  They identify what is currently impossible and imagine ways to make it possible.  Invention and novelty are valued.  On balance, they take responsibility for shaping the future, rather than worrying about it.  They embrace possibility.

Profound Respect:   People honor each other and their environment.  They treat each other as “human beings” rather than objects or “things.”  They hold each other accountable and are able to remain generous.

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