In the current political environment, it's easy to wonder if empathy is dead. But in other cases, empathy is the very basis of what makes a business successful. A leader with empathy has an enormous advantage in business. That leader will design a better product, have stronger relationships with customers, and create a company that will resonate with employees and the public.
The son of a Holocaust survivor, YPO member Maurice Ostro has a deep understanding of the importance of how people treat each other. Ostro is an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) and a Knight of the Royal Order of Francis I (KFO). He founded and sold 3 successful companies, in addition to running his family business, Ostro Minerals, the world's leading producer and distributor of blue topaz. Throughout his many successful business ventures, Ostro has made sure that others benefit from his work.
Ostro believes that entrepreneurs with empathy are more successful financially and more impactful socially. That's why he founded Entrepreneurial Giving, a network of entrepreneurs and businesses that pledge to donate a percentage of their profit to charity and support a new generation of like-minded entrepreneurs.
Here is Ostro's advice on how empathy can make a huge difference in the success of your company:
1. Have daily purpose.
Ostro believes purpose makes life and business more fulfilling and more successful. "Make purpose part of your daily decisions," he instructs, and empathy should be part of an entrepreneur's purpose. Ostro advises, "Ask yourself: how does my business affect my community or the environment? Do I have a purpose beyond profit?" If you're not having the impact you desire, make achieving it a centerpiece of what you do. Make sure your personal core values align with those of your business.
2. Be public, for the right reasons.
People are inspired when they see success, but they also don't want it rubbed in their faces. Make the good you're doing the focus of your publicity, instead of the profit. Ostro says, "Tell everyone - especially your employees - about what you're doing for those around you." The business will still benefit from the attention, even while the focus remains on the good that's coming out of it. This benefits the internal workings of your company too, Ostro explains: "Research shows that employees at a purposeful company can be up to three times more productive. You will attract better talent and a wider consumer market." Your internal and external marketing will become more powerful, and your business will grow.
3. Write it down.
Ostro believes in the power of the pen. He explains, "If you commit yourself to a cause in writing, you are more likely to follow it through with meaningful action. That's why EG have created a pledge to allow entrepreneurs to commit their business to purpose." Encourage your employees to do the same. How will they contribute to the financial and community goals of the business? Each person should establish an action plan, and work with colleagues to achieve every item.
4. Connect with purpose-driven people.
Community is a powerful driver of behavior. You've had your employees write down and share their plans to contribute to your company's internal and external goals, but there's more to do. "The journey to compassionate business does not need to be lonely!" Ostro emphasizes. The next step, Ostro explains, is to "Connect with other purpose-led entrepreneurs. EG has created a network for purpose-led businesses to share their journey and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs." These relationships offer individual connections that employees and leadership can benefit from, and they provide a powerful marketing opportunity.
5. Think like a Millennial.
It may not be the most obvious advice, but there's good business reason for it, besides being an opportunity for practicing empathy. "For this generation," Ostro says, "empathy and purpose are vital to a meaningful career." In fact, "88% of Millennials want to work for a company whose values match their own. Entrepreneurs should follow their lead towards purposeful business," he says. This is true in the companies Millennials want to work for and buy from. Business leaders who embrace this Millennial instinct for empathy have an enormous advantage over the competition.
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.