The Hidden Leadership Secret of BI

It is no secret that the culture and performance of an organization is directly impacted by leadership style. And leadership styles vary significantly. There are those transactional leaders who consider their actions within a framework of populism, and there are transformational leaders who eclipse their own personal advancement for the greater good of the business.

If we look back at the evolution of business culture and leadership we see a clear rise from the dehumanisation of scientific management instilled by Frederick Taylor and the convenient morality of Albert Carr to an era where the total wellbeing of employees is being regarded. Both Taylor and Carr disregarded human feelings in work production and negated leaders from having any moral obligation to enrich the lives of those who worked for them. In particular, Taylor proposed that the brain be left outside the workplace and Carr socialised that ethical principles of business be distinct from ethical codes outside the corporation.

Carrs views on business morality liberated many leaders to adopt ‘personalized’ versions of the truth – many of which have been played out in Courtrooms over recent years. The problem with Carr’s model on business ethics is that the boundaries slowly creep wider and wider to the point where subordinates view sub-ethical practices as ‘normal business’. Eventually, the point is reached where leaders and managers become totally desenstitised to the negative impacts of their actions or the internal conflict within individuals attempting to reconcile their business ethics with personal ethics builds stress to a level that drives extremely damaging personal reactions.

Much has been debated about the social responsibilities businesses have on the communities in which they operate. Just as a good residential neighbour moderates the volume on their stereo, checks the wind direction when burning leaves in the yard and keeps their pets from pooping on their neighbours lawns, businesses must be aware of the ‘pollution’ they create within their own environments – both within the physical and moral domains. The larger the business, the larger the potential impact. In doing so, businesses once again became humanised – reconnected to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of those who work within their walls, and those who live around them. A key driver of this transformation has been the regulatory demand for corporate transparency.

Corporate transparency is bringing morality and the whole person back into the workplace, and whilst largely driven by regulatory requirements, it has been enabled by business intelligence. The surprise is that the payoff may impact the bottom line more than most leaders recognise.

Between 75% and 85% of the current economy is service related, with much of that knowledge transfer. When we transfer knowledge, we transfer not only raw intelligence, but also the emotions of those who perform the transfer. Thus, the inner state of your employees is reflected in the way in which your services are delivered. From Taylors physical exchange model, through mental exchange of the knowledge economy we have evolved into a period of emotional intellectual exchange.

So how does one attempt to transform an organization with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of employees into a more evolved, emotionally enlightened enterprise? The key is not to attempt to change the values of the organization at large, but to change the values of the few people at the top. And where does BI fit into this picture? By helping leaders and the organization at large become more aware of the impact their organizational activities are having on the emotional wellbeing of their employees and communities, by helping them gain clarification of market and business drivers through rational analysis and gaining a clearer vision of the impact of new initiatives before they are launched.

BI provides an operating framework that promotes total transparency. And overall, transparency prevents leaders from attempting to cloak their personal agendas and ethics beneath the robes of corporate goals. BI promotes a clearer vision, a more coherent conceptual framework and devotion to 'the cause'. It enlightens a business from the boardroom to the basement, releasing people from empty physical and intellectual tasks that are best automated, and empowering them to engage with customers on a more emotionally transparent level. When that emotion is healthy, the exchange is healthy, and both the customer and the employee are happier. And it all starts with an enlightened leader.


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