“…for the companies you care for.”
I saw the phrase while scrolling aimlessly through my LinkedIn. It was in a post addressed to founders or CEOs. I don’t recall the rest of the post or even who posted it, but the phrase stuck out.
For the companies you care for — What if that was really the way we thought about it?
Companies can easily become dehumanized machines that put out a product and bring in enough capital to keep running. We think in terms of growth-hacking and optimization. Data reigns supreme.
But when I read “care for,” suddenly the way I see my company shifts. It’s not a machine but a living organism that needs tending.
More importantly, this idea of caring also shifts my relationship to it; the reality that I’m responsible for my company and everyone connected to it is now at the forefront.
The Problem with Machines
I get it. I’m a systems thinker and a builder. I appreciate the sanitized view of the parts and pieces working together to achieve their goals. In fact, I think there’s value to be had in this view.
But it obfuscates that you wouldn’t have a company — certainly not a larger company — without one critical element: people.
When you look at your company as a machine, your people become a cog like any other. They’re functional, and like other functional things, they exist largely as a number on a balance sheet and/or metal to be hammered into shape. You take.
The pandemic has taught us that this is a perspective we cannot afford. Companies perform better when we nurture the entire human. Your people have also come to expect better.
And that only covers your team. Your customers, your partners, and your community require your care as well.
Tend to Your Relationships
As someone who’s spent her career running a service providing business, I can attest that care is what it’s all about.
The time I invest in building relationships with those in my community — as partners or just as people — are a big part of what keeps my company healthy.
Moreover, caring for my customer is essential. Long term relationships have bolstered my firm and given it a foundation to grow. Positive customer relationships have even opened the door to new clients as they’ve referred people to us because they value the relationship we’ve developed.
To say people are the only thing about a company that requires nurturing neglects the other cogs that matter. You must care for your brand and reputation, your impact on the world, and even more mundane things like your cash flow — to name a few.
But your people are what make things happen, so if you tend to those relationships first, all of you can look after these other things more effectively together.
Right now, we are hyper-aware of how important work is to us as human beings. We need fulfillment, meaning, connection, productivity, and not least of all, a paycheck.
We are also aware that every dollar we put out into the world needs to go to something (or better to someone) that we trust will give us the most value for it.
CEOs, founders, and other leaders need to recognize that they’re responsible for caring for their companies, which means tending to all the relationships it relies on.
In the words of Simon Sinek, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”
I’m an analytical cross-connector and purpose-driven builder simplifying big ideas into actions. Subscribe to my newsletter for more stories like this one.