6 Steps to Get Out of the Box for Business Leaders from Central-Eastern Europe
Within one of my favourite articles is this one, on inner freedom backed with many smart citations.
Why do I mention this? In a spinning wheel of daily routines, I am like many others, placed in multiple roles of my being — as a father and husband, as a friend, son, executive, helping hand, salesman, or badass chef — all that happens.
It’s essential to pause for a moment and, as Bernard Roth suggests in his book The Achievement Habit, to ask “Who am I”, “What do I want?”, “What goal have I?”.
Such questions I usually repeat during my business trips. These “journeys” are understood as a business travelling because of events, sleeping in a hotel, meeting many people, listening or answering dozens of questions, being emphatic, open-minded and accepting. For me, that means much exercising of both halves of the brain. I use that time for learning, strategic thinking, or other activities usually identified as a Quadrant 2 activities (First Things First, S. Covey). I like trips as suppression or curation for being as blind as a bat because of the box I am inside.
From multiple observations of myself, takeaways (i.e. from Arctic15 we brought that) from trips bring a lot of changes, long-term futuristic perspectives, and food for the brain in advance (like camels do) which I use to feed my colleagues or family members.
In May 2019, I went to Oslo and cemented the purpose variable in an equation both for business and my way or a living a day.
Consciously two years ago I’ve introduced (that time distant for DO OK) a claim “Life-changing IT products” what for a service company which we are, was a revolution. Now I say, we help meaningful and life-changing leaders to scale-up their software.
As of now, most of our clients have that “impact” or “purpose” variable in their equation for business. Why am I writing that?
I have some hypothesis and motivations:
- The ICT industry is in its Eldorado era.
- Humans working in such are usually very skilled and eloquent people.
- Talented but caring people are more efficient and effective to solve the pressing problems of a modern world.
- The purpose is a new currency for new-era companies, with no connection to being a product or service company.
- So, business finally should serve society. Attracting new talents for a reason to improve, showing the purpose different from greed, is a new role-model for tech companies.
- Having a purpose is the strongest motivator. Moreover, running such a business (which still should generate profit our positive impact as a result) might be not disconnected from that.
During the Business for Peace Award Ceremony, I’ve heard wise words from Mr Per L. Saxegaard (a founder), which made my purpose shine brighter. The new word — “businessworthy” — still sounds loud in my mind. It is understood as ethically and responsibly seeking to solve problems that create value for both business and society.
Making a difference, which my teammates and I do believe in, brings more happiness into our lives, what is inversely proportional to making money. The below graphics illustrates that concept:
Notable mention should be made to other words, focused on greed.
Usually, those old-style companies were brought to life by absolvents of orthodox economics theory taught in the XX century by business schools evangelising “Greed is Good”. We remember that “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” (Mahatma Gandhi). Having a licence for running a business, as we do for driving, would be a massive sieve for greed-based firms with a lack of attention to seventeen named sustainable development goals.
We need to educate current founders, CxO’s, and wannabe-leaders (which am I, too) to make that difference, including impact and purpose to the definition-of-enterprise.
That’s not quite a change to what Adam Smith centuries ago stated on sympathetic culture, empathy, or fellow-feeling.
Current software companies leaders (let’s take even those 60 members in Software Development Association Poland, I co-founded last year) are empowered with profits, skills, technologies, and influence on the whole economy. I believe it would be straightforward to start to contribute to at least 4 of main UN goals: Good Health and Wellbeing, Reduce inequalities, Promote responsible consumption and production, and sustainable cities and communities. Being curious, I’ve checked mission statements of twenty randomly chosen Polish software development companies, to find out that only two of them had anything to do with having a purpose.
I know how important it is to feel that you succeed and feel useful, so I advise you to start with small moves which brought me to get out of the box more than just during the trips:
- Go out of the box and taking a deep breath on such events like Business for Peace, Katapult Tech Festival, Arctic15, or Oxygen2050. I’ve faced a lot of mature business culture there, zero sales approach and met above-described role models of impactful business. That influenced a lot of my self-development. Please note, that for you, dear reader, a perspective or impression from participating in a such might be different, so don’t expect the same I did.
- Review your purposes for running a business and discussing your claims, missions and visions, to understand where we are and do we have such people around us.
- Join the real-world-changers we could learn from, starting with reading (i.e. http://evonomics.com/) or listening to podcasts (you will find something valuable for you here: https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/thought-provoking-podcasts-to-inspire-conscious-sustainable-living or https://medium.com/the-mission/30-business-podcasts-a2c7c3a7d3f3).
- Follow startups with a purpose (i.e. http://www.nordicimpact.no/portfolio).
- Join initiatives like G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance, work on improving diversity (we have a committee for that in SoDA), or contribute to foundations to promote inclusion (like to Hearty Foundation https://heartyfoundation.com/)
- Work on your daily habits and think how they commit to bringing something useful to society.
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Invitation to us is to start being #businessworthy, #dochange, and work on our fears, usually for losing ground or stability. Fat bank accounts don’t make sense when there is no purpose in it. And deciding that your business equation will also include an impact will, of course, influence its net profit result, in a short-term.
“Hard choices — easy life, easy choices — hard life”, Jerzy Gregorek.