Three Trends Business Leaders Should Have on their Radar in Today's Global Economy

Dr. Rodney Ludema (left) makes last minute adjustments to a
classroom presentation while brother Dr. Jim Ludema observes.

White House Senior Economist Addresses Globalization, Instability, and Market Changes

Dr. Rodney Ludema, a senior economist with the President's Council of Economic Advisers and a professor at Georgetown, recently taught executive students at Benedictine's doctoral program in values-driven leadership

As part of his presentation to the students, Dr. Ludema shared three trends business leaders should consider when thinking about the global economy. Find his thoughts in the three minute video below, part of our Champions of Responsible Business video series

Leaders: You are Dinner Table Conversation

As a leader, are you spoiling appetites?
Photo used with permission from basykes via Flickr. 

Leaders are conversation at the dinner table; try not to spoil everyone’s appetite. At the end of the day, try to make certain that no one is going home wishing that you weren’t the boss or worse, wishing that they were employed elsewhere.  ~Sony Singh

I remember about 20 years ago I was supervising someone and I have no doubt I was dinner table conversation.  It didn’t help that we could not have been more different from each other.  I was a young woman in a white collar position; he was a man approaching retirement in a blue collar position; I put a high value on productivity over loyalty or longevity; he put a high value on loyalty over productivity.  And that’s just the start of the list.  After I had been supervising him for several months, one of the VPs at the organization was kind enough to tell me the high level of stress I was creating in this man’s life.  He would literally get tense and upset just at the sight of me.  I had no idea; but what a learning moment.

Back to Basics: Where to Turn in Times of Business Challenge

Extreme events, whether they are man-made (such as the European imbroglio, global financial crises, or radical political events such as the Arab Spring), or natural disasters such as tsunami, floods and earthquakes, seems to be occurring more frequently. In reality, the frequency may not be any greater, but our perception of the frequency has increased thanks to the 24 hour news cycle and our increased global awareness.

Business has taken notice. The economic and social consequences of such viral events are a matter of enormous concern and uncertainty for business. In fact, some of the only things that are certain are complexity, interdependence, and change. In the face of such unavoidable change, wise leaders return to the most fundamental questions of corporate leadership:
  • "What is our business?
  • "What is our vision, and mission?” 
  • (And perhaps most importantly) “What are our values?”

Values guide people’s decision-making in uncertainty.

How Purpose & Values Impact Profit - New Inc. Column Highlights CVDL Research Partnership

In today's challenging economic environment, every decision requires a close look at the business case for the investment. Should we buy a new warehouse? Expand to a new market? Increase employee benefits? Better look at the return on investment.

What if you knew, however, that investments in your organizational culture would also positively impact your bottom line? What if having a clear and actionable set of values could be measured?

Exploring the relationship between culture, values, and profit is the subject of a new three-year research initiative recently announced by the Small Giants Community and the Center for Values-Driven Leadership. The initiative was featured last week in an Inc. column by Paul Spiegelman, CEO of The Beryl Companies and a founder of the Small Giants.

Spiegelman, an author and advocate for establishing strong, people-focused cultures within companies, argues that purpose and values have four specific impacts and benefits on your company:

  1. They plot your team's course.
  2. They define-decision making.
  3. They resolve conflict.
  4. They lead to increased profit. 
Is Spiegelman right? The newly announced Return on Values initiative will help answer that question. To read more of Spiegelman's thoughts, see his Inc. column, The Culture Gap

When Your Wrong, Your Wrong: Mistakes, Missed Opportunity, and What Comes Next

What does it feel like to be wrong? It often feels like being right.
Sometimes, as in the text above, not even spell check can help. 
Late last week I sat in a room of business owners and entrepreneurs, maybe 100 of us. The facilitator asked a question that put all of us on the edge of our seats:

"What's the most money you've ever lost in a business decision?"

We were asked us to share our stories at our individual tables, and then nominate a "loser" to tell his or her story to the larger group.

The dollar value on these losses ranged widely - from $10,000 to numbers well into the seven figure range. And all of them had one thing in common: when we made the decision, it felt right. And it turned out to be wrong.

One man - a global business leader who has literally written the book on good business - told of a $6 million investment that went south because, as became evident over the course of a few years, neither he nor his business partners had the time or skill set to really make the business work. Over time, the value of the investment dwindled until the partnership had to take a large loss. But it didn't start out that way, of course: it started with champagne toasts and big visions for the future.