Muneesh Wadhwa, Founder of Humanity in Business has spent the majority of his working career connecting people, first through events and more recently connecting people values with organisation values to facilitate improved outcomes and address business challenges more effectively.
Muneesh Wadhwa says: “Understanding employee values will give the business and its leaders great perspective. If you can connect to the values of your employees, you are more likely to get better business outcomes. If you are more concerned with who they are and what their values are they will be more engaged to achieve business objectives.”
According to Wadhwa, values based business culture looks at the person holistically to identify their personal values, what’s important to them and what they are passionate about. This gives leaders perspective on how to engage staff more effectively and get better outcomes as you know what’s important to them. It allows the business to support employee development, work-life balance, commitment to community and family life. The more a business supports employees to be the best they can be, the more they will get back in return.
Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr, Clinical professor of management and strategy at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the author of From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership agrees “the only true leadership is values based leadership”.
There is plenty evidence to support Wadhwa’s assertions. In the book Firms of Endearment which looks at the way business decisions are made with a social conscience in mind, the authors established that US based “Firms of Endearment”, companies fuelled by passion and purpose not cash, outperformed the S&P 500 by 14 times over the period 1998-2013. In anyone’s language, that’s a massive result and adds strong credibility to the argument for a business social conscience. These companies earn large profits by helping all their stakeholders thrive: customers, investors, employees, community and society and there are many well-known brands among them: FedEx, Starbucks, Disney, Costco and Southwest Airlines, to name a few.
As Muneesh Wadhwa says: “For an organisation, the profit motive can still exist. There is nothing wrong with profit. It’s about being aware of how you can be more humane and compassionate with your employees, by understanding them as people versus just a person doing a job. Profit actually improves when you treat them as people rather than a task that needs to be completed. If you focus on the people who will complete the task, it’s a different way of addressing the task and in most cases will result in better outcomes from motivated, happy and committed employees.”
There are many challenges in getting leaders to embrace the “employee first” way of doing business. Many companies have old school, task focussed management whose primary goal is to ensure things get done on time and to budget. Organisations are driven by fear. Fear of making mistakes, fear of things going wrong, fear of losing a job, and fear of doing things differently all of which add a deeper level resistance to implementing new ideas.
“It’s is clear there are too few leaders willing to open their mental ears to their inner voice. Rather, they take cues for their behaviour from the external world where pursuit of power over others is the daily priority. Sadly, such ambitions weigh on us with a pervasive presence that extends far beyond the world of business.” (Firms of Endearment)
To find out how more about values based leadership and the positive impact it has on business, visit www.humanityinbusiness.com.au