Monday, October 22, 2012

Winning Like Lance Armstrong... Without Cheating

 "There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the Chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."  --- Sam Walton

Lance Armstrong was a hero to many not just in the cycling community, but the entire sports community as well.  He was also seen as an American hero representing the United States in the Tour de France and many other international racing venues.  Armstrong was recently stripped of his seven Tour wins for having used enhancing drugs to give him an edge in racing.  I'm certain there will be more to this story unfolding over the next several months, but if true, Armstrong ruined what was a good run of winning.  He wasted all of that hard work training and sacrificing over many years. 

As business leaders, we also work hard and sacrifice and scratch and claw to create a winning team with a winning streak.  As we've witnessed over recent years, business leaders also get caught cheating on their way to the victory podium.  Some started out on the right foot and were even surprised when they began to spiral into the depths of unethical play.  They took shortcuts and used performance enhancers that ate into their otherwise strong integrity.

I see three tips that can keep business leaders on track for winning the natural way:

1.) Build a team of enforcers.  Whatever Armstrong did or didn't do, he probably wouldn't be in this mess if he was surrounded by a caring team that held him accountable for his actions.  A good team supports its leader.  When you build your team and share your vision and mission for the business, everyone on the team knows what it takes to get from point A to point B.  Shortcuts usually don't exist and if they do, team members should examine them to make sure they are not landmines on the path.  Team members need to be empowered to correct wrongs when they see them as well as correct other members when they are going off course.

2.) Practice self-preaching.  We all get tempted from time to time and it is easy to let our guard down when we are tired at the end of the week (or even the beginning!).  Reading good business books, magazines, or listening to a podcast from a successful business person is helpful.  It is like having a cheering section encouraging us to move forward on the straight line.  Writing good business quotes and taping them on the mirror or office wall serves as reminders for the course we need to continue on.

3.) Teach others.  A known prescription for people that are hurting is to go help people who are hurting.  Helping at a women's shelter, feeding the hungry, or volunteering at a hospital helps to speed up the healing process.  So too with balancing on the beam of business ethics.  Teaching or mentoring young business leaders on the importance of building a business with integrity actually helps to strengthen your stance on building a winning team naturally, and with no performance enhancers.  Teach others so that you can continue to increase your reliance on good business practices.

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