Business can transform lives. Drew Koven knows this. In his roles as a global executive, mentor, advisor, and investor he has helped women and minority-owned businesses push through the line between success and failure. He was a guest on GNN’s Good News Weekly LIVE show and we wanted share his 12 steps for conducting business in a transformative way.
Step One: As leaders, the first step starts with knowing oneself.
To bring out the best in others, one must first be the best version of oneself. It’s an ongoing and challenging work in process, but with a much higher purpose and the highest, lasting rate of return.
My family is my life. I heard a wise man once say: “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”
You can’t fake authenticity or motive any more. Advertising campaigns and gestures of philanthropy no longer suffice when trying to show a true heart, soul and compassion for others. Who we are is a matter of how we act, not what we say.
Step Two: Find the highest values for the greatest common good—and act on them every day.
This should be the recipe for every decision we as leaders make. Think about how many times we have been tested and measured as leaders. Our character and commitment is constantly on display—both moral character, which is how we treat others, and performance character, which is how we treat ourselves. Do we think, talk and act on the basis of winning at all costs? Do we have team character, which is how we behave as part of a team? Do we live by example and model the attitudes and actions we want our organizations and teams to undertake? Because if we don’t, they won’t.
Step Three: Value what is valuable not what we were told is valuable.
As children we came into this world as blank canvases – and over time, we came to value what we were told was valuable. To keep it simple, just ask how you measure your self-worth and the worth of others and where did those thoughts originate from? Are we the Disruptors or the Disrupted; the Corruptors or the Corrupted?
Step Four: Know the difference between your purpose and your goals.
We prepare, we plan and we play to win, but winning is not a purpose – it’s a goal.
A purpose is helping others to learn and grow, to develop skills, character, confidence and it’s not an either/or decision. Goals have a beginning and an end, one’s purpose or organization’s does not.
Step Five: Know when winning could end up being the cause of losing it all.
When winning at all costs becomes the purpose, most will lose. Employee morale, turnover, questions such as, “why am I here,” or comments, “I’m here for the paycheck,” are death by a thousand cuts to a company. When people stop believing, ask the question: what was my role in this?
Step Six: Make sense of your own life first.
The single biggest determinant of optimizing the potential in others and having a transforming impact on an organization starts with the leader’s motivations and purpose. Ask questions such as: Why am I doing this, why do I lead the way I do, how does it feel to be led by me, and how do I define success – money, prestige, making the world a better place, empowering others?
Step Seven: Remember that every one of us wants to be loved and wants to belong.
Ask, what is my role as the leader and the culture I want to model and engage. Think about leaders as role models, modeling the behavior for others to follow. It becomes very powerful. For me, I think about my kids and how would they judge my words and actions if they worked for me.
Step Eight: Ask this question: Am I a transactional or transformational leader?
The first type of a leader is more of a ‘monitor,’ centering on self and extrinsic values. Everyone is a means to an end.
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The second is a ‘mentor’ and looks to understand and meet the needs of others, by empowering and focused on social, moral and ethical foundations rooted in intrinsic values.
Step Nine: Define success.
Dallas Cowboys Head Coach and a former quarterback Jason Garrett tells a story about what he learned from his high school football coach and mentor Cliff Foust with the following quote: “When you drop back, you’ve got to stand tall.”
Play after play, practice after practice, Garrett solidified his definition of success: “I measure success by the impact I’ve had on others’ lives.”
Step Ten: Remember your influence.
We move towards and become that which we believe about ourselves. Our self concept, in many cases, is built on the judgement of others. In our leadership roles we need to remember that we become those judges. A kind word, a good deed and a consistent listening ear will shine a light where maybe it is needed most – whereas shame, humiliation and deception lead to stress, humiliation, and anger.
Step Eleven: Go beyond the P&L and balance sheet.
Manage the hearts and nourish the souls of your teams in addition to working on revenue. It’s not an either/or. Karma is real. I employ the no “[email protected]*hole rule – which is to surround yourself with positive people to create positive outcomes and experiences. And remember, there’s enough to go around.
Step Twelve: Always remember that “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
Like the famous Einstein quote says: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
Drew Koven is Co Managing Director of LDR Ventures and host of The BizFix Podcast, a venture capitalist providing resources to advise, invest in, mentor and empower female and minority founders to succeed. See his appearance on Good News Weekly LIVE, below – Photo credit: MiiiSH, CC
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