I like to think I’m a decent human being. I open doors for people, help people where I can, treat my friends and acquaintances with respect and courtesy, pay my way when I’m out with people and do what I can to make sure I can look at myself in the mirror when I shave in the morning.
When I’m representing my business, I don’t reject all those values and morals that apply to my life outrside work. Why would I? That’s not who I am. I don’t go through a Superman-style phone box transformation just because I put a suit on.
Yes, if we’re to be successful we all need to be a little sharper-elbowed, perhaps, but not at the expense of the core ethics that define us as human beings.
After sharing an article from the Harvard Business Review on LinkedIn and with colleagues last week about how you should be yourself when networking, it struck me that really we should also be running our businesses in a way that reflects who we are and the values that we hold dear.
When I’m coaching a business owner, the first thing I aim to do is to find out what it is that makes them get up in the morning. Why did they decide to run their own business and how do they want their business to be thought of and to be seen?
These values can be communicated through our vision and our mission statement, but customers are more likely to get the real sense of your business in the way it deals with them.
There is a model which is widely taught at the world’s leading business schools, the McKinsey 7S model which, if applied correctly, can dramatically increase your chances of success as an organisation.
Four of the ‘S’s are critical to ensuring your business is on track to reflect the beliefs and values you have as a business owner. Aligned correctly, your stakeholders will have a real sense of what it is that makes you different.
They are as follows:
- Shared Values – these are the core values of the business. They underpin the culture of the organisation and how it behaves and is perceived by stakeholders, including the wider community.
- Staff – the number of staff and the way they are organised is often critical to providing the service to clients in an effective and efficient manner. Staff who know their roles and how they contribute to the overall objectives of the business are more motivated and will generally pull in the same direction.
- Skills – this reflects how competent your employees are. It shouldn’t simply reflect their ‘technical’ skills, but also the skills they use when dealing with clients. Treating clients in a way that reflects the way we like to do business is critical to ensuring your values are communicated at every possible opportunity.
- Style – this will often be re-enforced with strong leadership. It’s ‘the way we do business around here’. It could be something as simple as the dress code applied or the tone of emails, newsletters and other marketing.
Using this model can really help you to focus on your core values and to build your business in a way that makes stakeholders feel good about being involved with you and your team.