Wise leaders understand the value of creating a culture of abundance. And, I don’t use the word “wise”loosely because I find I’m always surprised by the number of leaders I encounter who don’t yet understand how abundant thinking ultimately impacts their bottom-line.
Even if you’re the wisest most successful leader in the land, let’s face it, we all have moments when we fall into the dark hole of scarcity. The key is to understand how to climb back out.
There’s a lot to be said about the distinctions between scarcity and abundance in organizations. In my work, I've come to distill this very complex conversation down to three simple, yet profound, elements.
It’s about: Purpose, People, and Profit.
The wise leader understands that it’s the balance between these three elements that ultimately creates abundance—not just in terms of profit-and-loss statements, but also in terms of human capital—the most valuable asset of all.
When leaders modify their thinking to include abundant thought and actions within the context of these three elements, an amazing thing happens. The organizational culture begins to shift. Abundance becomes the norm rather than the exception.
What Do I Mean by Abundance?
Abundance means that the organization operates from a greater sense of security. The organizational “consciousness,”is one of plenty. We have enough resources. The right people. The best clients. And, yes, even increased profits.
It’s important to note, however, that increased profits are an outcome of abundant thinking—not the other way around.
Abundance has little to do with how much the organization has accumulated. Profits may wax and wane, but in an abundant culture, the movement is still forward thinking. Bottom-line-results are important, but they flow out of an abundant culture.
Wise leaders understand that what’s even more important than the bottom-line is how they utilize those profits for the greater good of the organization. Additionally, they serve as catalysts for social responsibility.
Here’s a few guidelines that wise leaders consistently follow in an effort to create and then maintain an abundant culture:
1. Examine Results
The wise leader looks to results and asks the hard questions.
Are my results aligned with our Purpose?
Have I made decisions based on fear of not having enough or have I made decisions based on what I know is best for the organization and the people we serve?
Wise leaders also understand that the bottom-line can’t always drive every decision. Sometimes leadership requires a calculated risk or an unexpected investment in our people in order to achieve the desired outcome.
Leaders who live from abundance rarely make fear-based decisions. Rather, they examine results and the facts accompanying them, and they adjust accordingly. If the results aren't what was hoped for, they take responsibility for the outcomes. They then strategically realign their action steps with the Purpose of the organization, and they begin again.
2. Develop People
I’m fascinated by leaders who don’t want to spend time or money on developing their people. Or, for that matter, themselves. Failure to do so, I find, often results in a leader who is running scared. Such a leader is often confused about subordinate capabilities and how they fit into the organization.
A confused leader generates more confusion—never abundance. In one minute, he micromanages, and in the next, he demands effort, loyalty, and responsibility.
Subordinates are never clear when to move and when to stand still. When people fail, the confused leader blames. It’s a vicious cycle of wasted time and energy that ultimately results in poor morale and less than profitable results.
The wise leader, however, invests the time and money in developing his people. He engages them in ways that empowers them to responsibility execute on the vision and purpose for the organization, and he rewards them for their successes.
In short, he is committed to building people and relationships. While this may initially take a bit more time and effort, in the long run, the wise leader creates a team who operates from abundance—one willing to do whatever it takes to create the results.
Questions to ask and answer:
Am I micromanaging?
Failing to delegate?
Failing to clarify our vision and purpose?
If so, what do I need to do to shift my own thinking such that I create an abundant culture for our people?
3. Examine Profits
Any leader can juggle the numbers and make things look good on paper. The wise leader, however, brings a level of joyous celebration to the bottom-line. What did we create? How did we get there? How can we take the organization to the next level? Who can we help in the process?
A leader who lives from scarcity will have a difficult time answering these questions because she is more often than not so busy chasing time and money, she has little time to celebrate and even less time to live out acts of generosity.
Abundance means that profits are to be celebrated, maximized, and shared. The ability to do so comes from a deeper understanding that we not only have enough, we have the capacity to create more.
Abundance is word that is now tossed about to the point of being cliche. But, speaking about it and living it are two different things.
I challenge you to spend the next week taking note of when you either embrace abundant thought or stumble and fall into scarcity. I’d love to hear how you’re doing. No shame. No blame. We’re all climbing the same hill.
I invite you to join in the conversation.