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MANAGEMENT: Peak Profitability Through Value-Based Leadership
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altIntroduction
 
If you want to lead your company to peak performance and maximum profitability, pay attention!
 
The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of ‘people values’, identify what the values are that you need to be effective as a leader, and show how they link to the hard technical skills of management. Without these values being practiced, excellent knowledge of hard skills will not be enough to lead the way to maximum profitability.
 
Business practitioners (SAS, Southwest Airlines, TD Industries, etc.) and researchers (Jim Collins, Dave Ulrich, Gallup, etc.) in the West have stated that the most profitable businesses are those that treat employees, customers and partners as the most valuable business asset. It is the single most important net profit factor. This requires your paying attention to ‘people values’ as the foundation to your leadership practice–something most businesses do not do well. 
 
Chinese business leaders are especially challenged by limited employee, customer and partner loyalty and trust. Business productivity, competitiveness and profitability suffer as a result. Business failure rates are high. Management development programs hardly address these critical issues. 
 
Many management development programs today focus on the development of hard technical skills associated with accounting, planning, marketing, strategy execution, etc.; all of which are essential, but lacking attention to how ‘people values’ pre-determine what hard skills are needed and how they are used in ways that protect the human capital asset for best return on investment (ROI).

‘People Values’ are Foundational 
 
Instead of using positional authority to accumulate personal power and control action in your business, leaders need to commit to practicing ‘people values’ and developing a skilled and committed network of relationships with/between employees, partners and customers. 
 
Four categories of ‘people values’ should guide the business leader’s thinking, decision-making and behaviours:
 
1. Build relationship values: The most successful business executives will practice at least five core values that produce loyalty and trust:
 
a. Personal humility: The business leader must practice humility, not pride. Humility is achieved through self-awareness, authenticity, and identification with others.
b. Empathy for others: The business leader must care for others as much as they care for themselves, by valuing them, accepting them and correcting them for mistakes made in a context of grace. 
c. Employee development: The business leader’s role is one of stewardship of the company’s assets, the most valuable of which is its people, so will necessarily view himself/herself as the one responsible for ensuring that employees are given opportunities to develop their potential in order to improve productivity. This means showing understanding, encouragement, and sometimes sacrifices as resources are diverted to make this happen.
d. Collaborative work: The business leader must collaborate with employees, partners and customers for best results, by working independently, inter-dependently, and as teams. 
e. Performance excellence: Good managers must commit to excellence for best results, by being accountable, responsive and results focused. 
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As a business leader you must demonstrate an ability to motivate your staff- recognising that each member of your team is a unique individual. This means seeing everyone as being equally valuable through the adoption of fair treatment embedded in clear and accessible policies and practices. It also means recognising that whilst all are equally valuable aspects, each team member may require a different style of leadership and will have different developmental needs. Good managers ensure that secure work arrangements are in place and provide for safe work conditions. It means knowing how employees, partners or customers contribute to your business success; encouraging your team members to take personal responsibility for their area of work and for the overall success of the company; creating an environment where staff feel like they belong socially (this is especially important in a society where “group culture” is very strong); it means giving opportunities and encouragement for people to learn and innovate and also importantly, get recognition for quality work.
 
2. Role modelling new thinking. As a business leader you must ensure that these values and principles impact how you think about issues and how things are done in your factory or company. As leader you will only have credibility if you walk the talk.
 
3. Ethical decision-making. The business leader must ensure that ‘people values’ are implemented consistently through personal and organisational decision-making and action. This is a moral imperative. 
 
4. Shared core values. Part of being an effective leader means you constantly need to educate your team in the organisation’s values and then link these to the employee’s values. Where this is achieved, increased work productivity is the outcome.  
 
Of course, none of us have achieved all of these things in the way we run our companies. However, if we commit our leadership practices to increasingly follow these values and principles, not only will we experience personal transformation in the process but we will impact others in the same way. We also need to recognise that there are some values and principles that are universal and apply in all cultures. For example, treat others in the way you yourself would like to be treated is probably universal, but the behaviours that give evidence of how this is practiced are likely to vary from one culture to another.
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Practicing Value-Based Leadership  
 
Where such leadership values and principles are adopted this will influence management practice over who participates in the problem-solving or service improvement processes, which hard technical skills will be used, and how they will be implemented. The litmus test for the effective application of ‘people centred’ leadership includes attention to the development of a ‘people culture’, leading for absolute results, clarity of strategy and its execution, building a responsive authority structure, and developing and keeping a highly competent work force. For each of these things to be put in place, it will require an aligned leadership system.
 
An opportunity to study Value-Based Leadership in China.
 
Trinity Western University (TWU), Vancouver, Canada, in partnership with Leadership Development International Training (LDi Training), Tianjin, China have developed a graduate level value-based business leadership Master of Arts degree for middle to senior level business leader in China. TWU’s program was launched two years ago. Of the more than 50 students currently enrolled in the programme, the first cohort of students will graduate in the autumn of 2013. The next intake of new students will be into either an English cohort or a Mandarin cohort with the programme starting in November 2013.
 
To expand your business leadership understanding and skills, so that you can build a successful and profitable business in China, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at TWU or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at LDi Training for additional information. 
 
Please also visit www.twu.ca/maleadership‐china for more detailed information.

By Stan Remple 
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