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8 reasons why companies succeed

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“I truly believe that of all the factors that impact the success of businesses, connectedness is the one element missing in most of today’s organizations,” says Daniel F. Prosser, author of THIRTEENERS: Why Only 13 Percent of Companies Successfully Execute Their Strategy—and How Yours Can Be One of Them.

“If today’s leaders actually focused on building the connectedness they and their employees crave, they would see a many-fold increase in performance and bottom-line results.” On the following pages, Prosser offers eight of the key ways that business owners can steer their company to success.

conversationsSuccessful businesses have transformative, interrelated conversations. 

“Everything you do in your business is the result of a conversation,” explains Prosser. “Each business idea you come up with starts with a conversation. So does each action you take. Conversations have within them the ultimate power to make things be the way you say they’re going to be.

“It’s critically important to create awareness around the conversations going on inside your company,” he adds. “ I’ve seen amazing transformations happen when people uncover damaging conversations and replace them with others that build connections.”

virusSuccessful companies limit negative, viral conversations. 

The greatest challenges in business today are these unseen obstacles—the limiting and negative viral conversations that infect your vision, your mission, and the strategy you’re trying to execute right now. They undermine and sabotage individual and team performance.

“These conversations aren’t complicated,” notes Prosser. “You don’t have to have training in organizational development to recognize them. However, they are the reason your employees are disconnected from you, from your vision, from your mission, from the strategy for your company, and from the needs of your customers.”

declarationSuccessful companies take action with strong declarations.

“There is a big difference between a conversation for action and talking about action,” says Prosser. “You can have countless meetings talking about action but because you haven’t created a ‘conversation for action,’ nothing is getting done. Outcomes become possible only when you are willing to declare it to be possible—with absolutely no evidence that it is—and then to take the actions that are missing and that are consistent with your commitment. Your words gain power only at the moment you are willing to say how it is going to be and then take the actions to have it be that way.”

safetyLeaders of successful companies ‘lead out loud.’

Prosser says, “Real leaders are willing to ‘lead out loud.’ This means displaying vulnerability and asking for and accepting input from your employees so that everyone can contribute to and ‘own’ the company’s strategy for the future. For many leaders it’s scary to let employees see that you don’t have all the answers, but if you want them to commit to making your organization unstoppable, it’s critical.”

pretendingSuccessful companies have leaders who engage employees to help solve problems. 

“Leadership is about stepping out of your comfort zone—getting out of the box,” Prosser says. “Until you recognize that your true value as a leader is in your ability to lead an inquiry into the solutions for your organization (and not try to provide all the answers), you are doomed to repeat your own bad decisions and those of others who came before you. To accomplish that, you have to be willing to listen.”

failureSuccessful companies have solidarity among executives, managers, and emplyees. 

“The idea that each employee has something of value to contribute is missing from a patriarchal system,” explains Prosser. “Employees are never allowed to be their fully human selves; instead, a leader’s ego is inflated by marginalizing others.

“On the other hand, when there is relatedness, it’s very easy for an employee to talk to his or her direct supervisor, because that supervisor listens,” he adds. “And there is real solidarity among executives, managers, and employees. If someone needs something, there is no problem with starting a conversation that gets the issue handled. As a result, connectedness helps strengthen the internal and external relationships that are one of a company’s most important assets.”

avoidSuccessful companies let go of their fears and take risks. 

“Most people are invested in not failing, and they’ve taught all their employees to value that course of action over taking any kind of risks that have the potential to pay off,” says Prosser. “Everyone’s doing it, and it’s costing them on a grand scale. When you set reasonable goals to avoid failure, people will make only a little extra effort—but if goals are unreasonable, people will make real changes in the way they work. Sure, it’s a risk, but in business, risk is the only way to true success.

“In teaching others to let go of their fears about what might happen if they take risks, I’ve seen miracles happen,” he adds. “A professional services firm had an unprecedented 60 percent leap in performance in five months, for example. A creative services group went from a loss of tens of thousands of dollars in one year to a place on the Inc. 500/5,000 list and a more than 40,000 percent increase in net profit during the following years.”

embrace chaosSuccessful companies embrace chaos. 

“To create an organization of innovation and creativity, you need to allow and even introduce the tension that comes with or causes chaos,” says Prosser. “Systems that are out of equilibrium are forced to explore their space of possibilities, and this leads to new patterns of relationships and structures. An organization that embraces chaos is healthier than one that hangs on to equilibrium, and it can achieve a new level of performance.”

“If you’re a CEO or senior business leader with the potential for impacting the lives of others, you need to become deeply interested in the role you play in driving connectedness into your organization,” says Prosser. “You need to learn about how connectedness, and the lack of it, shapes your employees’ workplace experience and ultimately leads to the successful execution of your vision.”