The single best piece of business advice I've ever received came from a wizened boss at a now-defunct PR firm. He said, "You're a natural at what you do, but you'll never grab the brass ring if you don't apply The Golden Rule when managing peers and subordinates."
While I'll never be canonized, I've tried my best to follow his guidance and, well, the results, speak for themselves (I've built a $20 million strategic communications firm that experiences record low turnover while attracting the creme de la creme of corporate America).
So, why do so many other entrepreneurs still embrace the take-no-prisoners, management-by-fear style popularized by the likes of Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer?
In search of answers, I turned to one of Christianity's true turnaround stars, Senior Pastor Paul Bruno of the Evangel Christian Church in Little Ferry, New Jersey.
In a little over a year, he's increased the size of his congregation six-fold and launched a church-wide crusade by partnering with Meals with a Mission, where Evangel helps feed 300 needy Americans a month. And he exercises an authoritative management style that's sprinkled with lots of love and compassion.
Here are his five tips for how you, too, can meet, and exceed, every business goal by following The Golden Rule:
1.) Save your advertising dollars. "Nothing works better than providing a great personal experience for congregants (read: employees). Show them you care about their personal and professional success, and you'll build a flock of trusted followers who, in turn, will swear by your product or service and spread the gospel themselves. Word of mouth is exponentially more powerful than a 30-second Super Bowl commercial," said Bruno.
2.) Become another Bill Clinton. The good pastor was NOT suggesting philandering but, rather, taking the time (as Clinton famously does) to learn the name of every single employee. Keep a notebook that contains the names of your employees' family members, special gifts they've either been given or donated and the specific contributions they've made to your organization. "Nothing surprises and delights an employee or customer more than their knowing you know them on a personal level," said Bruno.
3.) Brand trumps ego. With all due respect to The Donald, Pastor Bruno believes establishing the organization's name, image, and reputation is far more important than creating a cult following around the CEO. "I believe in shining the spotlight on others in my organization for two reasons: I want them to know how critical their efforts have been to our success and, secondly, the brand will always outlast the CEO and I want them energized and motivated to take over the reins when I'm gone," he stated.
4.) Due diligence is critical to success. Despite his amazing success to date, Bruno admits to committing one classic no-no. He didn't conduct enough market research before becoming senior pastor. "I simply wasn't prepared to overcome the serious obstacles I'd inherited from my predecessor. Bible-thumping had really alienated the community. I also underestimated the needs of the large pockets of minorities and homeless who needed my help," he admitted. Bruno said it cost him a full year to course correct. So, in other words, look before you leap.
5.) Take care of yourself first. Mark Zuckerberg is famous for espousing a 24x7 work ethic. Not Bruno: "Pastors have an incredibly high burnout rate and often lose their family in the process. While the challenge of going 24x7 is just as real in managing a church as it is in business, the ability to find time for hobbies and activities is fundamental to your success and longevity. And, always put your family first. They, and not your business, are your true legacy."
Bruno's advice can be boiled down to this, "Do unto customers, employees, and vendors as you would have them do unto you."
It strikes me that too few entrepreneurs nowadays can look at themselves in the mirror each morning and say they follow Bruno's advice.