Founder/CEO, From The Hart Management™.
Twenty percent. That was the amount of profit being skimmed off the top of every transaction. The worst part was how I found out. It was during a price negotiation with one of our long-time retail vendors when they revealed they couldn’t reduce their pricing any further without incurring a loss. Needless to say, I was angry. Not only was I being lied to, but I was also told to “grind down” the pricing of a trusted vendor to save on costs.
That was the moment when I decided exactly what kind of leader I wanted to be. The kind of leader who would never let greed, power or position ever blind them to what matters most. The kind of person who thinks beyond the monetary gain and takes into account the global, personal and financial implications of their decisions.
While the practice of being a responsible “corporate citizen” is nothing new, we need to do more than just “check” the boxes of ethical business practices. We need to look deeper, do better and refine our decision-making lens in a way that puts people before profit.
Here are a few insights and strategies that have helped me stay aligned with my values and foster a healthy and productive work environment throughout my career.
Focus on employee satisfaction and well-being. es, it’s true, in order for a business to succeed it must be profitable. However, if your core focus is solely on profitability and KPIs, it can become very easy to lose sight of your most valuable assets: your employees, your team and the people who are driving the success of your business.
As humans in the modern workplace, we all have foundational needs that must be met for us to deliver our best work, and competitive salaries, benefits and 401(k)s are absolutely a part of this equation. However, if our core focus is purely on driving profits and increasing shareholder value at all costs, we’re destined to create the ideal work conditions where burnout and employee turnover reign supreme.
As leaders, it’s our responsibility not just to provide opportunities for growth, but to foster the kind of environment where that growth becomes sustainable and scalable if we hope to continually attract and retain top talent.
Build trust to drive sales.
Putting people before profit isn’t just a narrative that applies to senior leadership but every aspect of modern business and working relationships.
Think about the last sales call or cold email you received where a stranger was trying to sell you on the benefits of their company before asking if you wanted or needed their product. Or my personal favorite, when someone immediately asks the best time to jump on a call, when it’s crystal clear they know nothing about you.
This approach of prioritizing the transaction over the relationship is the primary reason why most initial outreach efforts fail. Today, we have access to resources like LinkedIn and Facebook, where it takes two seconds to learn a fact or two about a person you can then use to make a much more personal approach.
By putting people first, you provide a space to learn more about what others do, to get curious about how you can help them, and then deliver the exact outcomes they’re looking for. In other words, the people-before-profit approach is just good business, as it creates a unique opportunity for you to connect with a new customer and potentially create long-term business relationships that could drastically improve your bottom line.
Tie in the community.
These days, it’s almost impossible to scroll through Instagram or LinkedIn without bumping into another headline for that “impact-focused” company or that new “globally-minded” approach.
But when it comes to identifying the characteristics of a purpose-driven company, we need something a bit more tangible and measurable than just catchy catchphrases.
The truth is that genuine purpose-driven companies first align their focus on three fundamental pillars: their employees, their customers and the community that surrounds them. This approach is not just a recipe for long-term success but a sustainable mindset that will help genuine leaders make decisions in alignment with the legacy they will leave behind.
For example, my sense of purpose is connected to an unwavering effort to build a legacy of transformative impact and kindness that will hopefully ignite a spark in others to reach for greater heights. However, I can’t just talk about it; I need to take action.
In modern business, I believe the mere pursuit of excellence falls short unless we’re obliged to leverage our influence to serve the betterment of society.
Consider, for instance, the transformative power of donating a small fraction of your year-end earnings to a local charity, which is an act capable of changing hundreds of lives. Or maybe you’re leading a jewelry company that contributes one dollar per necklace sold for just one month. This simple contribution could extend a lifeline to nourish deprived children in impoverished nations.
It’s truly extraordinary how such seemingly small gestures can yield immeasurable good, yet so many of us miss these golden opportunities to give back, strengthen our communities and forge lasting human connections by focusing on the bigger picture.
In closing, I highly encourage you to ask yourself: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Because the path lies open before you, and every decision, regardless of magnitude, possesses the potential to shape a future rich with compassion and meaningful transformation.
Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?