In order to combat a rapidly changing "dangerous" technology world, the key for solution providers is to build from the inside out, best-selling author Simon Sinek told attendees of ConnectWise's 2013 IT Nation Partner Summit in Orlando, Fla., in his keynote address.
In order to find long-term success in business, Sinek, author of "Start With Why" and soon-to-be-released "Leaders Eat Last," said that businesses need to create environments of trust, collaboration and communication within the organizations.
"If you set the environment right, something remarkable happens," Sinek said in his speech. "A new technology might render your business obsolete overnight. There's nothing you can do about it ...The only variable is the environment inside your organization," he continued.
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It all comes down to biology, he said. The chemicals in the body will react to the relationships formed within the business, and the key is making sure chemicals that elicit feelings of happiness are promoted over ones that promote feelings of stress.
"Business is not rational. It's not about the terms you agreed to; it's about the human bond," Sinek said.
"We're looking for human bonds of trust always and they are biological -- they are about the contract."
Creating a "circumference of safety" makes employees feel like they are valued and will improve productivity and decrease turnover, Sinek said. It also will help improve the customer experience, he said. Oftentimes, businesses focus on the customer first, he said, which means the employee is at least second -- or lower -- on the priority list. By placing employees first and focusing on creating a positive culture from within, businesses will actually see improved customer service across the board, he said.
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To start creating the environment within a business, Sinek said leaders can take small steps to start improving their culture right away. For example, when someone from the office sends an email, instead of hitting "reply," walk over to their desk and have a face-to-face conversation. If someone does a good job at something, walk over and tell them so, he said.
Sinek said something as simple as leaving cellphones, which he said we are all addicted to, turned off and in a bucket outside the meeting room, will make a huge difference.
"You will watch productivity skyrocket," he said.
Dwight Jones, sales engineer at Holland, Mich.-based Macatawa Technologies, said that the keynote was "inspiring" and that he hoped to bring a lot of the points back to his own business, including ditching the cellphone every once and a while.
"It pointed out all the inefficiencies in the company I work for," Jones told CRN. "[And it pointed out] opportunities that we could use at our own office."
The end goal is creating a culture where people really care about each other, he said, and leaders are willing to sacrifice for the people rather than the bottom line. He gave the example of one company who, like many other companies, took a huge hit when the economy crashed. However, instead of laying off employees, the CEO chose to implement mandatory unpaid vacations and expressed to his employees how important they were as opposed to quarterly numbers. The result was a feeling of camaraderie among the employees, and Sinek said he expected none of those employees would abandon ship for another company because of their dedication to the leader.
"Leadership is a choice. Are you willing to sacrifice your comfort when it matters to the person to the left and to the right of you?" Sinek said. "The result is trust and love and loyalty, and these people will start to sacrifice themselves for you. That’s just how it works," he continued.
It doesn't have to be a monumental shift right away, Sinek said, but taking small steps to create a more comforting and collaborating culture will help open opportunities and strengthen the organization in the long run.
"If you have the vision of where you want to move the organization or solve the problem, just try one small thing," Sinek said. "Just move one brick."
PUBLISHED ON NOV. 15, 2013