March 18, 2019
Scaling Success, Reducing Stress: Corporate Responsibility in the 21st Century
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As entrepreneurs and executives, we often feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. The web work of responsibilities telescoping through our organizations have direct lines to our desks – as if we are the Grand Central terminals for hundreds – if not thousands – of relationships and ongoing duties and obligations.
The internal ecosystem of our companies – our sales team, our operations team, our finance team, our technology team, our human resources team, our legal team, our boards of directors, our shareholders – all of these are directly connected to us. And then there’s the external ecosystem – our customers, our suppliers, our regulators, and the communities in which we operate – all of those also directly connected to us as individual executives!
Can you picture the image of Atlas holding the weight of the world on his shoulders, and imagine it now with the addition of hundreds of ropes tied around us and radiating outward to all of these relationships? This is often how we executives end up experiencing our leadership roles: as if tethered by countless cable-tows, and nearly crushed under the relentless weight of all that we’re managing!
This is the picture – and perhaps the reality – that too many of us hold for our roles as leaders.
How do we transform this picture so that instead of getting shackled and crushed, we become increasingly buoyant and jubilant as our responsibilities and enterprises scale-up?
What is the secret key that allows us to realize our full capacities as leaders, while keeping the burdens of stress at bay?
Wele, a middle English word that means “well-being,” is the etymological root of our modern word: wealth. Yes, that’s right, our word “wealth” derives from a word used a handful of centuries ago that means well-being!
And Wele is an essential key to our 21st-century leadership.
As we leaders make Wele the central organizing principle of our professional efforts, we will necessarily discover and cultivate practices that enhance our personal health and well-being, thus making us less-stressed, more energized, and with greater creativity and enhanced cognitive performance and capacity!
More and more executives are realizing this to be true. For example, in their recent Wall Street Journal article, “Well Being: A Strategic Priority,” Erica Volini and Jeffrey Schwartz from Deloitte tell us: “C-suite executives are getting the message. Just as productivity, citizenship, and inclusion have become more important, so too has well-being.”
Moreover, they tell us further that well-being is increasingly understood to be core and foundational to a corporate team’s effectiveness: “a balanced suite of well-being programs focused on physical, mental, financial, and spiritual health is becoming a corporate responsibility and a strategy for improving employee productivity, engagement, and retention.”
Not only is our rapidly evolving understanding of executive leadership and corporate responsibility changing how we think about our employees and our human resources programs, it is also transforming how we relate to our external stakeholders, and to the communities around the globe in which we operate. Indeed, especially as our educated workforces are becoming increasingly mindful of the environmental and social impacts our value chains are having around the world, we must remember that our global citizenship is not only an external relations matter, but is also an increasingly important aspect of our recruitment and retention of human resource assets and talent.
We have entered the Age of Transparency, which means that the impacts our corporations are having around the world are also profoundly impacting the morale of our teams. And, whether we fully recognize it yet or not, our selves.
So, what can we do about all of this as executive leaders? The answer lies in the second secret key of insight that we’ll discuss in this article: Wele (well-being) is an inside out job. That is, the very strategies we’ll employ to improve our personal well-being (improved diet, detoxifying our surroundings, connection with nature, breathing and body movement disciplines, unplugging, and quality time with friends and loved ones), are also essential to improving the efficacy and impact of our entire teams, and are also foundational to the approaches we take to our environmental stewardship and social sustainability policies around the world.
These are not disparate topics, disparate strategies, or isolated goals and disciplines. They are completely integrated. They are but various facets of the same, singular, holistic organism that is our corporate organization, with us as executive leaders right in the middle of it all.
Here’s the rub: if we aren’t cultivating true, deep, authentic health and well-being in our life-practices, we cannot fully cultivate the stewardship and sustainability policies that will determine our company’s competitive advantage in the 21st century. These cannot be treated as mutually exclusive – at least not if you intend to excel, succeed, and win the competitive advantage game that rules over our enterprises’ life or death cycles.
Wele is the key. You must unlock from the inside out. This is how to scale success and reduce stress.
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