Former Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen was famous for his rhetorical style because he sounded like a true politician. One of his more famous lines was: “I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.” However, he is likely best known for this line: “When I feel the heat, I see the light.” In other words, when U.S. Sen. Dirksen would feel the political pressure, he would realize he needed to change how he would vote. When his situation would become untenable, he would realize he needed to do something different.
Today, workplaces in America are feeling the heat. The perspectives and practices that have brought American workplaces to this point are no longer working. Therefore, it should be of great concern to us how Gallup’s Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton summarized business leadership today in Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report: “The very practice of management no longer works.” Based on data collected since 2010 from nearly 200,000 employees and 31,000,000 respondents through their client database, their 2017 report found only one third of the American workforce is engaged at their jobs. Half of American workers are not engaged, and one sixth of workers are actively disengaged.
American management has produced low productivity, toxic workplace cultures, poor job satisfaction, compromised profitability, abysmal morale, and mistrust between leadership and employees. There is no question that nonprofits in America are feeling the heat. The question is whether they will see the light.
This problem has been around for quite a while. Based on Gallup’s data, the lack of engagement of the workforce has been around since at least the turn of the millennium, and based on the trends it shows no sign of changing in the near term.
On page 16 of their book Conscious Capitalism (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013), Whole Foods Market Co-CEO John Mackey and his co-author Raj Sisodia see this situation as endemic: “Too many businesses have operated with a low level of consciousness about their true purpose and overall impact on the world. Their tendency to think in terms of trade-offs has led to many unintended, harmful consequences for people, society, and the planet, resulting in an understandable backlash.”
“For those who work for you, living the Golden Rule can make a huge impact in their lives.”
The American workplace is not changing by itself, and you cannot expect it to change on its own. You can’t change the state of the American workplace, but you can change the culture in your workplace by embracing the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). Don’t focus on what you can’t do, but focus on what you can do.
For those who work for you, living the Golden Rule can make a huge impact in their lives. You can impact how they view your organization. You can affect how they feel about the work they do. You can change how they feel about themselves. You can make a profound impact.
Ultimately what you do every day is not about making a living. It’s about making a life. You can do more than just grow your organization. You can make a difference. Your organization can bring out the best in everyone around you. Your workplace can have a positive effect on your employees, your customers, your donors, your suppliers, and your community. You can put the Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12) into action and produce a transformational culture. As a result, your organization will have a triple bottom-line impact.
1. Social Bottom Line
If you treat your team the way you would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12), then your team will feel more empowered to make the organization better. As a result, they will serve your customers better, which will spill over into your community. You will have more influence where you live and work because your good reputation will precede you.
Through living the Golden Rule, you will foster greater employee engagement. Your employees will sense they are valued and their work is appreciated. Your team will know that you care about them not only as workers but as people. They will feel the organization’s work matters and what they do personally matters. They will feel equipped, empowered, and entrusted to do good work. They will feel that they are listened to and they are understood. Your team will believe more in your organization, go the extra mile for others, and have more joy in their work because you are willing to show them that you love them as you would love yourself (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:31; Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14).
How you treat your employees will have a ripple effect on their families. Your employees will see themselves differently, and as a result they will see their families differently. What your employees see in you will show them how they can treat their families as well.
2. Economic Bottom Line
When you treat your team the way you would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12), then they will treat your customers and donors the way they would want to be treated. As a result, you will have a more profitable bottom line.
Your customers and donors will feel good about their interactions with your organization because your Golden Rule values will show through your team. That will enhance your brand and develop deeper customer trust. Because your customers and donors will feel increased value from their dealings with you, you will retain them longer. As a result, you will produce more revenue.
"By intentionally designing your culture based on the Golden Rule-and consistently living it-your organization will have a transformational effect on people."
Treating your team the way you would want to be treated will affect your suppliers too. Your team will see your suppliers in a new way and will treat them differently. As a result, your suppliers will be more willing to work with you even if you come upon hard times.
By intentionally creating a culture where you live the Golden Rule, you will be more profitable because you will be creating an environment where you live what you say you believe.
3. Spiritual Bottom Line
The people around you who don’t share your faith will be watching. They will be curious to see if you will live the Golden Rule consistently. They want to see if you mean what you say. If your actions back up your words, they will be inspired to learn more about your faith. By living the Golden Rule daily, you can reach people with the gospel in a way that a church cannot do.
People in your community will see something different in you because of the way your employees and customers talk about you. Your community will notice how you treat your employees, your suppliers, your donors and your customers. When you intentionally and consistently love your neighbor, your community will notice.
By intentionally designing your culture based on the Golden Rule—and consistently living it—your organization will have a transformational effect on people. You will be able to build your people, increase your revenue and impact your community. As a result, your organization will have a triple bottom-line impact.
Living the Golden Rule will have the biggest impact on you. You will see yourself as a catalyst for change that you may never have seen before. And you will see the impact you can have—because you were willing to act on your faith and put into practice in a tangible way by living the Golden Rule.
Robert McFarland is the author of the #1 international best seller, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew (Best Seller Publishing, LLC, 2017). Robert is also President of Transformational Impact LLC, an executive leadership development consultancy helping leaders achieve the results they want in business and in life. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.