Dear Business Owner,

Sun, Mar 22, 2009

4. Leadership, 7. Featured

I don’t give a damn for the same old played out scenes
I don’t give a damn for just the in-betweens.
Honey I want the heart, I want the soul, I want control right now.
You better listen to me baby:
Talk about a dream; try to make it real.

Bruce Springsteen, Badlands

Dear Business Owner,

I am one of you. I love income statements and profit. I believe that your business should operate in a way that assures its long-term success. I don’t think that corporate responsibility should be a cost.

How many times have you told me that it was important to focus on carbon footprint but now was not the time? I am glad you recycle. But what are you doing to make a difference that is measurable? You track metrics on costs, waste, quality, inventory, etc.

But what about these metrics:

  • decrease in energy costs?
  • reduction in garbage hauling costs?
  • increase in market size?
  • brand value and goodwill?

I don’t want to hear that ‘it’s not the time.’ Of course it’s the time. I am not suggesting you take on something charitable. I am suggesting that it’s time to listen better, or at least listen different. I am tired of the ‘in-betweens’ – you care, but you don’t act. If your business matters to you, please Mr./Ms. Business Owner, put your heart and soul into this. Let’s make it real. Here are a few reasons to go for it:

  • address sustainability in your mission, because it will improve morale
  • look at how each of your core strategies can be enabled by sustainability
  • look at costs with an eye towards lowering waste, saving you money

No more lip service please. Take action. Show your leadership. There is an opportunity here to make people feel better about their jobs and for your firm to earn more profit. I am not suggesting you do anything that does not meet your internal requirements for payback. But if you want it bad enough, put your heart and soul into it, I can assure you we can make this real. Differentiate yourself and your business through your leadership. Consider the benefit of value-based leadership and the ROI of that.


P.S. Dear Environmentalist, you aren’t off the hook either. You need to learn a new language – the language of business. Business owners don’t listen because they can’t understand what you are saying to them. More on that though in another rant…

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