You won’t find any business school classes discussing it. There are no chapters in business textbooks that mention it. Certainly formal business plans with their stilted text, charts, graphs and projections have little time for it. And business consultants consider it a sign of weakness to even mention it. But in the end it is the most critical and essential element to the continuing success of any venture in a competitive business world. Without it no company can ever reach its potential and if it loses it, the company rapidly sinks into the abyss of bureaucratic failure. When companies or individuals working at companies lose it they are forever condemned to live on the dark side of corporate life.
What is “it”?
It is the “soul” of an enterprise. It is the tie that binds, it is the furnace of passion, the cauldron of commitment, the acceptance of accountability, the vista of visions and the belief that what is being done is being done for the right reasons. It can be felt by anyone, but only the true believers can see, touch and taste it. A company without soul is a thing without a being. The soul of an enterprise bonds it together as one force giving it identity, purpose, direction and a reason for being.
Many pooh-pooh the reality and value of soul in the corporate world but it is truly amazing how, given the same business circumstances, some companies do so much better than others. It is not soul that assures success, but it is the presence of soul that unifies the mission to achieve success.
Study an uncommonly successful company and you will discover a company with soul that was imbued in the culture by a strong entrepreneurial leader. Companies such as Apple Computer, Southwest Airlines, Anderson Windows, FedEx and Starbucks are companies that come to mind. Continue reading