Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his upper rooms by injustice. — Jeremiah 22:13
Third take on the first value: Do the right thing.
When I learned that Robert Greenleaf’s epitaph reads ‘Potentially a good plumber; ruined by a sophisticated education,’ I couldn’t help but laugh. I suspect one day mine will read the same only with the word ‘machinist’ taking the place of the word plumber.
In this, the last post in a triptych that I hope will properly complete my introduction to Evaero’s value of ‘Do the Right Thing,’ I wanted to introduce you to Robert Greenleaf if you weren’t already familiar. His philosophy points to what I aspire to as a leader and, in turn, shapes Evaero’s ethos.
Gemeinschaft is a German word that seems to reflect what the leaders of organizations mean when they tell their employees, suppliers, and communities ‘If we/I win, you win.’ Borrowing a phrase from a mentor Woody Powell, all too often what I see are the seemingly heartfelt notions of corporate Gemeinschaft devolving to just a few of us getting the gemein and the rest getting the proverbial schaft.
Many would argue today’s society leaves little room for notions of gemeinschaft and the devolution I describe is natural. My intention here is not to argue the point, rather to say that if ‘we/I win-you win’ is just window dressing, then so to are any notions of doing the right thing.
While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power, as noted by the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership a servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. For a servant-leader, ‘we win-you win’ is not just window dressing, it’s a natural outcome of understanding that my success depends on your success.
At the end of his commencement address to a Harvard graduating class, Muhammad Ali was asked for a poem and delivered the following: Me We (link takes you to a short YouTube piece of George Plimpton providing a first hand account). In the simplest of ways, Ali’s poem points at how, regardless of one’s resources, to enable success.
For me to succeed, so too must those who work for me. For Evaero to succeed, so too must my business partners and my community. Me We — it’s not just window dressing.
Although we are a small business in a hypercompetitive marketplace I truly believe in this and it greatly informs my notion of what it means to do the right thing.
By putting yourself in the shoes of others and by serving others, you’ll have a sense for what is right. By being true to yourself and reminding yourself who you serve, you’ll tend to do what is right.
Do the right thing — the most important of Evaero’s three core values.