According to USA Today, every year nearly 1.5 million Americans start their own businesses. If they survive the first three years, chances are they’ll stay afloat.
So how do you create an enduring business? For starters, put a sustainable leader at the helm. That means having a leader who improves employee morale, workplace environment and the community. Forget about boosting profits with a no-holds-barred, pillage and plunder approach. Sustainable leaders strengthen the bottom lines by creating loyalty with employees, clients and the community—the result of showing they value their staffs and of taking civic responsibility, according to acclaimed executive coach and author Karlin Sloan.
“Sustainable leaders leave the people around them, their companies, clients and the greater community all better off from their service,” says Sloan. “They build organizations that are sustainable and can thrive for years to come beyond their individual contributions.”
In her coaching seminars and her book “Smarter, Faster, Better: Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership,” Sloan encourages casting aside the old notions of leadership and taking five practical steps to building a sustainable business:
1. Measure more than the bottom line.
Think about the big picture and the impact your business has on the community and the environment. Then take action to improve in weak areas.
2. Practice sustainable working styles.
Happy, healthy employees are more productive. Many companies offer employees perks such as movie days or free car washes. They also advocate a balance between work and home life. Remember, lower absenteeism and job turnover also save money.
3. Get everyone working together.
Collaborate as a company to improve sustainability and generate a sense of teamwork, excitement and ownership. Plus, it enhances your ability to attract the best people.
4. Give back to the community.
Create employee matching programs, encourage community involvement and corporate philanthropy. People in your community help keep you in business—return the favor!
5. Reduce your carbon footprint.
Take stock of your energy usage and invest in alternative ways to power your operation or reduce your consumption. Think green and incorporate simple changes such as reducing paper usage, recycling and switching to energy saving light bulbs.
“All leaders are unique and there is no secret formula for success, no step-by-step prescription for greatness,” says Sloan. “However, any leader’s greatness can be measured by how well they serve the groups whose trust they hold.”
Sloan’s message resonates loudly in an age when customers are demanding more accountability from companies. Leaders at some of the nation’s most recognizable brands, including Yahoo!, Allstate and Rodale Press are taking notice and implementing Sloan’s principles in leadership development. By asking questions, slowing down and searching for better solutions for the workplace, customers and beyond, business leaders can develop more than just their careers; they can carve out an enduring legacy. And it can all start with just five simple steps.
Karlin Sloan, www.karlinsloan.com, is the founder and president of Karlin Sloan & Co. A certified executive coach with a master’s degree in clinical psychology, Sloan’s expertise in organization development consulting, leadership development programs and executive coaching has served clients throughout the United States, Europe, South America and Asia. She also serves as adjunct faculty for The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.