Recently I read Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by John C. Bogle of Vanguard Financial fame. Chapter 7 is entitled “Too much management, not enough leadership” — a sentiment shared by many involved with business organizations today. Bogle goes on to list 10 rules for building a great organization of which any organization should strive to replicate.
- Make caring the soul of the organization.
- Forget about employees.
- Set high standards and values — and stick to them.
- Talk the talk. Repeat the values endlessly.
- Walk the walk. Actions speak louder than words.
- Don’t overmanage.
- Recognize individual achievement.
- A reminder — loyalty is a two-way street.
- Lead and manage for the long term.
- Press on, regardless.
Many of these truisms are self-explanatory, a few are quite shocking, and a couple are simply revolutionary. Let’s focus on the revolutionary points.
Forget about your employees.
Every business needs do-ers but not a single business should really have employees. Bogle says, ” To me, an employee suggested someone who came in each day at nine, left promptly at five, did what he was told, kept her mouth shut, and got paid, just like clockwork, when the workweek ended.” Hardly inspiring and so to is the word “employee.” Call them crew members, team members, sandwich artist, but for everyone’s sake do not call them employees. Underestimating the power of semantics also implies your tendency to overlook the importance of your do-ers. “Categorically, the firm that ignores the intangible qualities that the human beings who are our colleagues bring to their careers will never build a great workforce or a great organization.”, laments Bogle.
Talk the talk and repeat the values endlessly.
Those who love quotable business lines love saying if you are going to “talk the talk, then walk the walk.” In almost every occasion, I would come down on the hard side of walking the walk to build trust, gain respect, and show value. For many managers, leaders, and businesses today, there is a more problematic precursor — not being able to talk the talk. Bogles says, “Building a great organization demands finding the right words to communicate the best ideas and the highest ideals, words that convey purpose and passion and vision.” Simply put, leave the BS at the door. If you cannot convey your idea, concept, vision, or marching orders to a 5 year old, then you will fail from the start.
What makes your organization great or not?
photo credit: 24oranges.nl