“The master accumulates nothing but the more he does for others the greater his existence.”
– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching
Do you believe you can effortlessly ride the path to prosperity – living in a state of wealth, balance and ease?
Prosperity is not something that can be appropriated – by cleverly acquiring the right resources and deploying them through an intelligent strategy. What we miss is the awareness that in every moment we are in a relationship – certainly with major stakeholders – employees, customers, investors, vendors, community and planet – but also with all beings on the planet. Companies are nature. Made up of human beings, living in human nature. And physicists now confirm – we are all interconnected.
Therefore, if we interact thinking “it’s just all about us”, we are creating an imbalance in nature that will ultimately lead to failure. Because we are denying the actuality of the relationships that are already happening.
The first of the seven leadership practices that leaders must inculcate, on a path to real prosperity, is servant leadership. Standing inside the intention of being in service to another human being – not just as a means to profit – but because we care about their well being. This is also a potent antidote to the toxic behavior of craving and greed that causes so much stress and disturbance in organizations and society.
Three Steps to Servant Leadership
1. The first step is to let go of the illusion that strategy with the intention to appropriate and accumulate will lead to prosperity. This is my big life lesson and I struggle with it most days. While I understand there’s a huge cultural force that stands in the way of seeing truth here, I also know first-hand, that this attitude is the breeding ground for greed and can never bring fulfillment – just the illusion of fulfillment.
2. The second step is to monitor your intentions. Witness them without judgement. Ask yourself, am I coming from a place of “not enough”, a place of “gotta get more to fill me up”, a place of scarcity, a place of lack? This is “all about me” thinking, and cannot lead to prosperity. These intentions will crowd your mind, and leave little room for the creativity and awareness of greater opportunity that does lead to prosperity. When you find yourself mired in scarce, competitive, adversarial thinking – a small constrictive space – redirect your focus to serving your stakeholders, as per step 3.
3. The third step is to refocus on any of your six core stakeholder groups (employees, customers, shareholders, vendors, community, environment). A leader’s scorecard is simple: Top line, bottom line, cash flow, strategy/vision, and people. Growth in these 5 areas drives shareholder value. And if you focus on serving the interests of all stakeholders, it’s the most efficient path to optimizing each of your scorecard objectives, increasing shareholder value, and greater prosperity for all.
If we can imbibe an inner attitude of caring – customer care, employee care, supplier care, community care, environmental care – and combine that with smart strategy, discipline, focused execution and accountability – this is a blueprint for prosperity.
Man of Faith is an executive, business and leadership coach, keynote speaker and ethics instructor.