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I was recently asked about what to do when it feels like you need to change the core purpose of your business. Another person answered that “your core purpose is always to return money to your shareholders, that never changes.”

I believe that attitude is fifty years out of date.

Sure, if you choose to create a company which is merely about extracting money from your customers and giving it to your investors, fine. But that’s not the people I’m working with.

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You may not notice, but everything you do as a leader is affecting your people. If you’re having a lousy day, your folks pick that up and will reflect it by being brittle and tense.

Which then affects customers and everybody else.

But you also don’t want to live life behind a mask, right? Just put on the “inspiring, confident leader” face 24/7?

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Leadership is weird.

We’re stuck in this space of always striving, always reaching. Never satisfied with the status quo.

But that wears people out – physically, emotionally, intellectually. So what’s the difference between a leader who uses this effectively, versus just burning people out?

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I was listening to a great conversation with Ed and Peter Schein recently. They threw out a powerful concept:

“Accountability and transparency are needed when you don’t have trust and openness.”

Since I’m a fan of both trust and transparency, this challenged my thinking. But I think they have a great point which is worth exploring.

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They’re that wonderful customer. You’ve worked with them for years, but now they’re gone.

This has happened to my clients on occasion, and it really hurts. It can shake them to their foundation if they let it.

Here’s how I’ve helped pull them back from the ledge.

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You’ve probably heard the stories by now. An employee just chooses to disappear one day without a trace. No contact at all.

It doesn’t really matter where this phenomenon came from. What matters is what it tells you about your organization. And yes, it really hurts.

There are a few reasons why someone would do this to you:

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Do you have the whole world figured out? I sure don’t.

There are days when I’m not sure I understand anything.

That’s where it pays to be curious. Like a child.

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Amazon.com is now over half a million people. For such an incredibly automated service, this is an astounding number of employees.

But you’d be hard pressed to find ANY business where its success doesn’t lie in the hands of its people.

So how do they manage this?

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There are times when your business is facing the truly big choices.

M&A (mergers & acquisitions) or taking your company public are the events that bring lots of press attention, but for a smaller company there are many more modest examples:

  • Hiring your first employee
  • Putting a management layer in for the first time
  • Retiring from your business
  • Expanding from single-location to multiple-location
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It may seem like the forces of darkness are out to get you. I feel like that myself sometimes.

If you have a deeper purpose or vision, though, you can cut through the darkness because it’s always available to you.

It’s even more fascinating to me that my light of inspiration can affect others even more than it does me. It’s infectious.

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