Two articles in my Outlook Inbox this morning got me thinking about the “triple-bottom line.” This is a term that Ken Blanchard uses to describe the need to focus on more than just profits when measuring business success.
In the first article, Focus on Individualism Creates MBA “Monsters”? Dr. Peggy Cunningham identifies that “Too much focus on individual success and competition between companies makes people forget that they’re part of a larger social system to which they are accountable.”
In the second article, Are You a “One and Done” Leader? authors Steven Smith and David Marcum ask, “If two people were debating or competing, and one was egotistical and the other was humble, who would win? The majority of people answer, “The egotistical person.” Why? Because while humility is an admirable trait, there’s suspicion about its weaknesses—who wants anything to do with humility if it’s incompatible with winning?”
I think that both of these articles raise questions about the wisdom of seeing business as an individually focused quest for short term goal accomplishment.
While leaders can be successful in the short run by emphasizing goal accomplishment, what tends to fall by the wayside is the condition of the human organization. Those leaders don’t always take morale and job satisfaction into consideration—only results.
This type of thinking is too short-sighted and will not position a company for long term growth or success. To succeed long term you need to have a both/and philosophy. The development of people is of equal importance to performance. The leader of the future will need to balance a focus on results together with respect, care and fairness for the well-being of all involved. The result is an organization where people and profits both grow and thrive.
If you’d like to learn more about a more balanced approach to leadership and a more thorough explanation of what we mean by the “triple bottom line,” check out our article on Leadership: The Key To Organizational Vitality.