0 Comments | Mar 31, 2010

We’re all in the same business.

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I’ve become convinced that most businesses fail because of poor leadership. Occasionally, market forces will make a product line or service obsolete, or a competitor will outpace your offering, but those are recoverable circumstances – if your business has the proper leadership to adapt.

What relatively few business owners and executives appreciate is that every business is a people business. I grew up flying fighter aircraft in the Air Force. It’s demanding, technical, athletic, and exhausting. As you might imagine, there are more than a few entry barriers to a career as a fighter pilot, and plenty of opportunities along the way to be “invited” to pursue a different line of work.

The most meaningful realization I made during the course of my career in fighter aviation had no relation to technical skills, athletic endurance, courage, or book smarts. The most important revelation – the one that had the biggest positive impact on my success – is that flying fighters is a people business. It’s all about leadership, plain and simple. The only magic formula is to do whatever it takes to help your people succeed.

If you’re worried that an up-and-comer will take your job, the organization will suffer from your selfish perspective. If you’re not actively seeking ways to make the work environment more conducive to productivity, creativity, and adaptation, expect to be overwhelmed by the competition. In the long run, the winners in your industry (whatever industry that may be) will be the ones who foster the strongest team relationship among their staff.

The culture you foster at your business will ultimately determine how productive your employees are, the caliber of talent your work environment attracts, and how profitable your business becomes. If you can develop a pervasive attitude of teamwork and loyalty, you’ll have most of the battle won, no matter what form your business challenges may take.

What’s the easiest way to set your business apart in this regard? Demonstrate understanding and appreciation that your staff is twice as effective, motivated, and productive when work and life are appropriately balanced. Structure your workplace environment flexibly, and provide a Vacation Wellness™ benefit. Protect your employees’ home and family from workplace intrusions, and jealously guard their private time for them.

If you care for them – tangibly, continuously, and programmatically – they’ll take care of your business.

Life is, after all, a people business.