The goal of any leader in an organization should be to build something that outlasts us and serves people for generations to come. To do this effectively means recognizing that what may be an appealing short-term benefit actually harms the business in the long-run. This includes how you grow your team(s), treat your employees, customers, communities, and stakeholders, and stand firm to your purpose and values. So, setting benchmarks, KPIs, goals, etc. that reflect a long-term perspective over a reactive one is paramount.
What does it look like?
Refusal to sacrifice people for numbers
These days, it has become common practice that during times of economic hardship, the first place companies look to cut costs is by minimizing their workforce. While this solution may be the “easy” way to minimize strain on the bottom line, it sends a clear message to the outside world, as well as the people still remaining in the organization, that we would rather sacrifice people so that we can preserve operations as they are instead of changing the way that we operate to preserve our people. By prioritizing your team members as you would do for family, you both motivate and inspire your workers to not only show up that same way for your customers but to show up this way for each other as well.
Significant investment in retention and people development (both personally and professionally)
Many organizations today see “people development” as simply helping their employees learn new skills and get certifications that will directly benefit the business. While this may seem like a generous move because it could potentially help the employee get another job if they leave the company, it completely ignores the fact that this is a human being that wants to grow personally, in ways that may not immediately impact the bottom line. Some accountants want to learn photography, some paid media specialists want to learn public speaking, and some front-end engineers want to learn guitar. Will these skills immediately contribute to the bottom line on their own merits? Probably not. However, do these things make the person feel more whole, accomplished, and proud? Absolutely. And someone who feels these things will typically show up more effectively in their work roles as well. And who knows! Maybe that data scientists that wanted to learn how to use Adobe Premiere might end up stepping up to create some social ads for you, which saves your company from having to hire someone new or an agency. Or maybe they end up creating some fun internal videos that help improve morale and strengthen your company culture. You never know what people are capable of until you give them the opportunity!
Only pursues intentional, sustainable growth vs. expansion/growth AS the goal
What gets measured gets done...sometimes to our own detriment. If you ask many organizations today what their goals are, growth is almost always on the list. When we ask why it is, however, the answer is often unclear. Growth is merely a tool that allows you to positively impact the lives of more people; but when growth becomes the ends rather than the means, employees, customers, and communities usually end up paying the price. Companies need to approach growth in a healthy, sustainable way. Otherwise, we see things happen like frequent mass layoffs, unethical marketing and sourcing practices, disregard for personal impact on employees, and loss of intentionality of decision-making. Great companies make long-term, values and purpose-based decisions so that they are healthy enough to weather the many storms that volatile markets and political climates can throw at them. This includes everything from hiring and growing talent, to entering new markets and industries, to even choosing investors.
Prioritizes environmental impact in operating practices
There can be long-term companies if we don’t have a long-term planet. With all of the data available to inform us about our environmental impacts as well as the vast amounts of talent and innovation for eco-friendly solutions, it’s more important than ever to be focusing on your company’s footprint and how it could be affecting future generations on this planet.