Walt Disney knew exactly what soul was in his organization. It was the feeling of happiness and the joy of the Disney magic whether created in movies, theme parks, customer service or products. Those feelings were at the core existence or soul of the organization. Everything Disney does is designed to provide joy in the hearts and souls of everyone who shares the Disney experience.
A soulless corporation was defined by Roland Marchand in his book, Creating the Corporate Soul, as “one driven by a cold economic logic that defined its every decision as a money equation.” He thought soullessness often implied a perceived lack of conscience on the part of the corporation as well as the coldness and aloofness of the organization.
For companies like Disney, the corporate soul directly connects to the end user through all levels of the organization and all products in a circular motion, ultimately resulting in a financial reward returning to the organization.
Soul Formula: Put people first and profits will follow. The equation is that simple. Putting people first means including the end user, as in the case of Disney’s customers, the employee as well as the shareholder. The 21st century workforce expects employers to have a people-centered vision and wants its workplace to be more caring, more communicative, empowering and creative.
Today, employees who do not find these qualities in their workplace rapidly dis-engage; their productivity drops and in turn profitability declines. Some may even work toward the demise of the company. The consumer readily picks up on these, sometimes obvious other times subtle, nuances and reacts by moving their business elsewhere. Worst case scenario: consumers end up boycotting or badmouthing the company.
Finding Soul: As reported in Business Week, researchers in the late 1990s found that companies with a soul were 5.5 percent more profitable. Female employees and Generation X and Y employees expect a company to have soul. And, as boomers age, materialism is no longer is a motivating factor, leaving them searching for something more satisfying and meaningful in their careers.
Spend time soul searching. Determine why you exist. Like Walt Disney, determine who you are and what your core beliefs are. The inner workings and mindset of a company become the outer success. This process takes creative think sessions first on the part of leadership and then expanded sessions including all aspects and levels of your business. The input from someone who works in repairs and maintenance will astound you and enrich your soul searching sessions. These sessions should be brief, no longer than one hour each time, without rejection of any thoughts or suggestions and with a succinct outcome. You should be able to state your business’ soul in five words or less.
Action follows thought. If the thought or result of your soul searching is correct, your company can put into place and execute the right strategy, which will flow in a circular motion throughout your business while engaging your workforce, returning increased profits and shareholder value. This one step is priceless and guarantees sustainability and growth when properly applied.
Success is never for sale. The true test of whether you really have discovered your business’ soul is when things go wrong. You will discover how committed you really are to your 21st Century way of operation. Will you be willing to sacrifice the “new you,” your core beliefs of who you are to make a sale? Will you cheapen your product to stay competitive or to get a new client? Will you devalue a job skill, de-motivate the workforce or hire a new CEO with different core beliefs?
Soul matters because it shows internally and externally – client relations suffer, engaged employees disengage and public perception is tarnished. Engage everyone at all levels of the business to help resolve issues. Have conversations not dissertations. Everyone becomes part of searching for the solution not expanding the problem.
Create a Soul Roadmap. There’s a scene from Alice in Wonderland, which features the Cheshire Cat. When asked by Alice which way should she go, he responds by asking her, “Well that depends on where you want to get.” Alice says, “Oh it really doesn’t matter as long as…” To which the Cheshire Cat declares, “Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.”
To be successful you need a roadmap to reach your destination. When you find your business soul you have not only found your beginning point, but the reason for existing — which becomes that molten hot energy that ignites and inspires leadership, management, your workforce, your clients and comes full circle with increased productivity and increased bottom line profits. Your business soul becomes the basis for all decisions, which creates a clear and simple roadmap to sustainable success.
Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.