We are living in a business world of downward forecasts, slipping GDP growth, shrinking middle class, declining consumer confidence and spending, erratic stock market, and…yes…financial earthquake. And yet, behaviors and mindsets are all the same. Most economists don’t forecast an improvement until 2018. What should leaders do in a time when everyone is pinched so hard? How do we shape the path forward?
I attended a leadership seminar earlier this year in Atlanta, and was amazed by how all speakers were saying the same things for years with slightly different terminologies. The new buzz word in the business world is influential leadership. While that’s good, it lacks the fundamental shift that we need in our thought process and actions.
A few thought leaders have touched on the high need for “feminine values” and “soft powers”, but none of them clearly defined these terms that seem to be loaded with polarizing reactions. That’s why I have developed emotional and cultural frameworks for my consulting business, to steer away from gender stereotyping of these critical business and leadership models. This will be explained in details in my book, but I’d like to share a few highlights with my loyal readers.
Riane Eisler in her book “The Chalice & The Blade” explains a remarkable Cultural Transformation theory with two very different social models: Dominator and Partnership. The Dominator model is the ranking of one half of humanity over the other. The Partnership model is based on the principle of linking rather than ranking. Feminine values are associated with creation, life generating nurturing powers and giving – versus taking, conquest and domination that are often associated with masculine values. This is not the battle of the sexes or genders, for we all know not even in our male dominated world not all women are peaceful, giving and nurturing and many men are. I am referring to human values that have become a business and social imperative in our current economic climate.
As both technology and society have grown more complex, the survival has become increasingly dependant on the direction of cultural evolution. The virtual worldwide web reveals both possibilities and cultural shadows. It reveals collaborations and alliances as well as exposing famine terror and epidemic greed leading to global financial collapse. As a result, we’ve seen a step backward to our defensive needs (food, safety, basic living essentials) instead of shifting to higher needs of growth, actualization and our interconnectedness with all of humanity. It’s time to consciously and collectively choose our own cultural evolutionary path.
Sounds too woo woo or too soft? Not really. The need to control and dominate is a feeling of powerlessness…control or be controlled. I believe it is time to redefine power as less need to limit or control other and define power as affiliation, linking and partnership. That means leaving behind the hard, conquest and domination oriented values. Replacing conformity and uniformity with individuality and diversity. Focusing more on relationships than on hierarchies. Balancing of intuition with reason and logic. Balancing competition and cooperation. Making conflict productive rather than destructive. Embracing equality, justice, freedom, openness, trust, honesty and integrity. A New World leader ought to possess all this power, and must know that it is time for a partnership society where neither half of humanity is ranked over the other, nor inclusion equated with inferiority or superiority.
I use a unique emotional and cultural framework in my consulting and speaking business that revolve around beliefs and values. I thought it’d be a good idea to share a short blog on this topic with my loyal readers.
Beliefs are the assumptions we make about ourselves and others. Convictions and concepts we hold to be true, with or without evidence. How we expect things to be, what we think is true and real. Our beliefs grow from what we see, hear, experience and think about. And beliefs manifest in what we say and do. They are the basis for decision-making and drive consumption behavior for businesses, as well as how we communicate and relate with others.
Our values stem from our beliefs. Values are about how we think things or people ought to be in terms of qualities and guiding principles that are important to us – such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, trust, openness, freedom, peace, happiness, empathy, compassion, equality, faithfulness, etc. While some values are universal in unanimous global agreement – such as honesty, integrity, peace – many values vary based on culture, religion, and beliefs that are widely shared and rarely questioned.
I’ve seen many companies post their values on their web site. Some even mark leadership, innovation and customer focus as values. And why not. They are beliefs that are widely shared and rarely questioned. But I’d ask….are your values aligned with those of your customers and relationships that are important to you?
If you have any intentions to grab a piece of the $2 trillion marketplace that is multicultural and youthful where women have become key players, you may want to consider these values as thought starters in your cultural and emotional frameworks for marketing messages :
- Multicultural: Trust, Acceptance, Respect, Understanding
- Women: Trust, Equality, Thoughtfulness, Service
- Youth: Inspiration, Creativity, Freedom, Adventure
Yes, there are more…and with commonalities. Find them, communicate them, but most importantly, be honest and authentic about them. Your fans will know the difference.
Happy New Year. There is something truly exciting and profound about the start of a new year. A sense of new found energy to channel emotional, creative and ethical intelligence….our sense of bigger purpose, causes and beliefs. Like it or not, recent economic changes have had strong effect on all cultures and businesses. This is a great time to ask your team, “where are the gaps in your current strategy and delivery systems in this New World Marketplace?”
I am starting my 2011 blog series with “New World Strategies” to help you and your team examine your strategy in terms of what your brand offers and how to align values with the New world customers.
Let’s first start with text book definition of “Strategy”: Which customers, which needs and at what relative price. It’s not about competing to be the“best”, it’s about being “different”. It’s just as much about what-not-to-do, as it is about what-to-do. A combination of benefits and trade-offs your brand offers. A mutually profitable value proposition between you and your customers, that differentiates you from all other alternatives and competitors.
How is the “New World Strategy” any different? Think about how “which customers” and “which needs” are constantly changing. Women are now majority of the work force…for every 2 men that get a college degree, 3 women do the same….1/3 of US population is non-white….1 out of 3 kids being born in the US will have a parent who is an immigrant….If you haven’t read my blog on “What is the New World Marketplace”, click and read now. There is shocking statistics. Today, it is all about organizations and leaders embracing the velocity of this transformation to achieve future profitability.
Critical demographic and cultural shifts are changing the faces and needs of the New World customers. The way your brand’s shifts and changes your customers experiences and lives, versus the alternatives and competitors, will define your success. Examine your current strategy. This means a new mindset of becoming your own future rival and forsaking your past prejudices and orthodoxies that exist in most organizations today. Think about understanding what is changing in the New World Marketplace and why ~ within emotional and cultural frameworks ~ not our traditional rational frameworks…. features, facts and figures do not define behavior. It’s really a lot more fluid than that.
Cultural and emotional frameworks are critical touchstones for future profitability. People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it. Most organizations know what and how to sell, but do they know why? This means aligning your values with those of your New World customers, believing in what they believe ~ and vice versa. Today’s shared reality is far more authentic and intuitive than ever before. We’ve got an exciting, yet evolving year ahead. I’ll be sharing new data points and case studies throughout the year. If you are seeing micro or macro trends in your business that you would like to discuss, I’d love to hear from you.