Leaders Doing Good and Doing Well
by Bob Prosen


As the global market continues to accelerate, so does the need for leaders who have the courage to “do good and do well.” It sounds simple, but it’s one of the biggest challenges you face as a leader.

How can you ensure that you do right by the company, employees, and community? In light of all the leaders who are forced to “resign” so they can “pursue other interests” after a scandal is revealed, we need to encourage all leaders to take seriously their role in shepherding the best possible outcomes in their work. It’s not just about what’s easy, politically correct, or comfortable—it is about having the fortitude to make the right decisions despite the obstacles or what the mainstream might want us to do.

Do Good and Do Well

You can be both competitive and victorious while maintaining your integrity. The old adage is true, “You can do good and do well.” Whether you are the leader of a Fortune 1000 company, the owner of a privately held business or a non-profit leader, you can set goals that will help keep you on the right path. Leaders need to ensure that they create a culture that is both fulfilling and collaborative for all stakeholders. Leaders need the courage to make tough decisions, take calculated risk, make time to plan, react less, hire smarter, have fun, and be proud members of an enterprise that is respected and admired.

The strongest leaders have the courage to establish a culture where employees want to come to work and feel empowered by playing their part in a larger mission. Confident leaders have the courage to create an environment where everyone’s ideas and talents are sought after and respected, where trust is high, and politics are kept to a minimum. And the top ones are quick to act when either the company’s culture or ethics are challenged. When leaders look for the quick road to success, regardless of the consequences, the whole company fails, not just the leader.

Top Leaders Don’t Get Comfortable

Leaders are brave enough to grow, as John Maxwell said, “If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” Leaders, who don’t get stuck in the status quo will in turn, raise their employees to a higher standard of excellence.

An effective leader is both committed and self-aware. They won’t leave when times get tough, and they won’t remain in their position longer than they need to particularly if the company is performing poorly.

Experienced leaders understand the power of simplicity and how to evoke and encourage it throughout the organization. Too often there is a belief entrenched in organizations that says, “For something to be good, it has to be sophisticated, elaborate and complex.” When in reality, the simple and easy to understand initiatives are the ones that most often succeed.

Companies are created for one purpose: to achieve a mission. So, leaders must know how to be hard on performance and easy on people to ensure attainment of results against goals. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to encourage hard work and only reward results.

Profitably is Only the Enabler

While profitably is the goal and must always be at the forefront, profitability in and of itself should not be the ultimate objective. It’s only the enabler. The real goal and the true power of maintaining a profitable company is that profitability enables organizations to have the freedom of choice. Organizations that operate with integrity and consistently achieve their financial and operating objectives are respected and admired. They can also compete more effectively, take better care of employees, customers and shareholders.

Having a solid reputation of “doing good and doing well” enables leaders to attract and retain the best talent and board members. These enlightened leaders are also committed to give back to society to help make the world a better place.

One of the finest examples are two young college students who founded a company in a dorm room, and now influence the way the world works and connects. Those two men founded Google and after they took the company public, one of the first things they published was their philosophy: Ten Things Google Has Found To Be True. It permeates the culture and leadership of the company.

As a leader, I’m fond of these three:

  1. “You can make money without doing evil.” This is absolutely the case and by the way, it’s a lot more enjoyable along the way and long after you’ve made your money if you take this route.

  2. “You can be serious without a suit.” Respect the creativity that your employees might bring to their mission which might not be identical to your thought process. Encouraging collaboration, open-door policy and listening is key to leading a profitable and visionary company. As a leader you must have the courage and foresight to “hire people smarter than you” and let them do their jobs.
  3. “Great just isn’t good enough.” Bravo! I believe a successful leader knows that there is no such thing as too profitable, and knows that anything is possible.

If you’re ready to “do good and do well”, here are nine questions you can ask yourself to make sure you stay on the right track:

  1. Do I ask my employees and team members, “How can I help you win?”
  2. Do I delegate, but not abdicate?
  3. Am I constantly encouraging less talk and more action?
  4. Do I practice being hard on performance, and easy on people?
  5. Am I rewarding results, not activities?
  6. Does our company consistently replicate its success?
  7. Do I have the courage to treat commitments as promises?
  8. Am I willing to hire people smarter than me and let them do their jobs?
  9. Is our company culture well defined and enforced?

No matter what type of company or organization you lead, at the end of the day you can successfully overcome any challenge by choosing to lead with courage, truth, authenticity, vision and never give up.


The Author

Bob Prosen

Bob Prosen is President and CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement (www.bobprosen.com). He has been delivering exceptional business results for more than a quarter-century, first as an successful agent of transformation at a variety of major and mid-sized U.S. corporations, and lately as a consultant, educator and speaker working with leaders of organizations in business, government and not-for-profit arenas. He is the best selling author of Kiss Theory Good Bye - Five Proven Ways to Get Extraordinary Results in Any Company.
Many more articles in Executive Performance in The CEO Refresher Archives

Copyright 2008 by
Bob Prosen. All rights reserved.

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