When public and private sectors are strong, and leaders in business and government work together, society as a whole benefits.
Business and government do not operate in separate vacuums. What happens in our business environment directly impacts the economy and individuals’ access to wealth and success. What happens in government influences the private sector’s ability to create jobs, provide benefits and compete in a world market. The private and public sectors are part of a whole economy.
But too many times we act like it’s us vs. them. Business leaders can learn from public officials, and politicians at the local, state and national levels. And the opposite is true. I often have an opportunity to share business insights with political leaders interested in learning how a particular legislative move might impact the business community. This is big-picture thinking. This is acting as a public servant and working for the people.
Here are three lessons government can learn from business to create a stronger society.
Collaborate with others so you can make a bigger impact. Our lives are not separated into silos for family, business, investments, faith, community and so on.
How can we connect the dots? By asking this question before we take action, we will be more effective leaders. How can we help each other create jobs? How can we boost the economy? How can we create more opportunities for vendors, suppliers, clients, friends and neighbors? How can we help others generate more profit and do more good?
When businesses thrive, they pay more taxes, which benefits the government, which, in turn, benefits the people. One success leads to another. Helping one helps another.
Consider the stakeholders
How will the decisions you make impact the people who matter most to you? How will they affect your family, employees, vendors, clients or community? Slow down. Consider the potential outcome of your actions. Who are you helping? Who might you hurt unintentionally? Who will benefit? How can we all improve?
Follow consistent leaders
If you don’t know what you’re doing or where you are going, then who is going to follow you? There are lots of talking heads in politics and in business. There are public officials who deliver party lines and sound bites. They have a self-serving agenda.
The same is true in business. There are CEOs who are self-serving and so engulfed in their successes that they forget how they got where they are, or what their purpose is. They ride the tide of what’s popular rather than having a tough conversation.
They don’t want to lose their office, the public’s vote, a big client or whatever. They may be polished, but they are not consistent. They may look good on camera and on stage, but they’re not real. They are not in touch with their people —constituents, employees and stakeholders.
Successful leaders know what they are doing and where they are going. Their values and ethics do not change to please a voter or client. Great leaders fall because of arrogance. When we are honest and consistent, when we know where we’re going and what we’re doing, we get more done. We help others.
What government can learn from business is that in business, you’ve ultimately got to get something done: Make a product, deliver a service, solve a problem. If you can’t do that and gain a competitive advantage, you lose market share and customers.
Umberto P. Fedeli is CEO of The Fedeli Group