I just started listening to Gary Hamel's What Matters Now, and I loved the following advice he gives to graduating MBA students.
I tell them assume that the following things are true:
- Your widowed mother has invested her life savings in your company. She's the only shareholder, and that investment is her only asset. Obviously, you'll do everything you can to make sure she has a secure and happy retirement. That's why the idea of sacrificing the long-term for a quick payout would never occur to you.
- Your boss is an older sibling. You'll always be respectful, but you won't hesitate offer frank advice when you think it's warranted, and you'll never suck up.
- Your employees are childhood chums. You'll always give them the benefit of the doubt and will do whatever you can do smooth their path. When needed though, you'll remind them that friendship is a reciprocal responsibility, and you'll never treat them as "human resources."
- Your children are the company's primary customers. You'll want to please and delight them. That means you'll go to the mat with anyone who suggests you should deceive them or take advantage of them. You'll never exploit a customer.
- You're independently wealthy. You work because you want to, not because you have to, so you will never sacrifice your integrity for a promotion or a glowing performance review. You'll quit before you'll compromise.
These assumptions if acted upon will help nourish the seeds of stewardship in your business life and by example in the lives of others.