Category Archives: Stage 2 Small Business

Empathy & Profitability

Many of my clients are proud of the “family feel” of their companies. They care about their people, see the whole person, and create a bond of trust that moves them well beyond an “employer-employee” relationship.

The last few years have been hard for the leaders of these companies, because they haven’t been able to protect their employees from the tumultuous market environment that their companies are operating in. Bonuses have been cancelled, raises postponed, training missed, and some of the “family” have even been let go.

In a discussion this week with a leadership team that was debating how to balance the benefits of a family feel with the realities of operating a company within the rules of business, I pointed out that it is profitability that provides the flexibility to treat employees well.

Look at a company that treats its employees well, and you’ll also be looking at a company that has a profitable business model.

At a Board meeting with one of my family business clients a few weeks ago – a company that has been passed down through several generations – they said it another way: “Always protect the money tree first.”

After yesterday’s meeting, I thought, “If profitability is the foundation of an empathetic company, what is the foundation of profitability?”

The answer has many parts, of course – strategy, productivity, discipline, teamwork, culture, accountability, etc. But I’d say the thing that comes first, before making the profitability happen, is…empathy. The ability to empathize with your customers, so that you understand what they need and how to make their lives better, in a way that they value.

If you want to empathize with your employees – if you want to create that great family feel – empathize with your customers.

There are many values that a company can live by. If you haven’t considered having Empathy as one of your company’s core values, it’s worth a look. And if you haven’t defined any of your core values…we should talk.

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Ebenezer Scrooge teaches us about Stage 2 planning

Picture this… A friend of yours runs a successful Stage 2 business – but is also frustrated that things aren’t going as well as he’d like.  It’s your job to set him on a new path. How do you create … Continue reading

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Systems Thinking is the Key to Second Stage Companies

Want to succeed as a Second Stage company?  Become a master of systems thinking. Systems thinking is at the heart of my work.  A Stage 2 company is moving from a Simple System (few parts, simple cause-effect, straightforward thinking) to … Continue reading

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Our Trend Report Identifies 2012 Trends Impacting Your Small Business

Imagine having a crystal ball that could show you the future. Wouldn’t it help you make better decisions for your business? Well, we don’t have a crystal ball. And we can’t promise to show you the future. Not exactly. However, … Continue reading

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What team conflict can tell you about your Second Stage strategy

Conflict in a team can be so frustrating for a Second Stage company.  You want to focus on the work at hand, but you and your team can’t get started – or keep getting sidetracked – because you’re not working … Continue reading

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How to get Employees to act like Owners in your Second Stage Company

I hear it all the time:  “When we were a start-up, everyone on the team went beyond their job and made sure we were successful as a business.  It’s why we made it to where we are.  But now that … Continue reading

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Stage 2 Planning: Make Waves…Not Spikes

Most Second Stage small businesses have a planning process, but there are often 2 problems with them:  the planning cycle is incomplete, and the preparation is incomplete.  Let’s look at that second problem some more. Because leaders are so busy, … Continue reading

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On the Delusions of Success

Marshall Goldsmith wrote an article for The Conference Board titled, “The Success Delusion.”  In it, he writes, “We all delude ourselves about our achievements, our status and our contributions…Although our self-confident delusions can help us achieve, they can make it … Continue reading

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Leading Performance

I described the Second Stage CEO’s Job Description in a previous post, by highlighting the CEO’s role in Framing the Issues. Another of the CEO’s roles is to Ensure Performance.  That doesn’t mean that the CEO needs to develop the … Continue reading

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“Business acumen” and Second Stage leadership

I’ll be talking with Ted Prince in our upcoming free Stage 2 Secrets educational teleseminar on leadership. I have used the work of Ted and his Perth Leadership Institute in my leadership coaching for Second Stage CEOs for years. Ted’s … Continue reading

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