Business leaders need to use this core mentality to foster growth.
In the 1920s, the Hawthorne Works in Chicago commissioned a study to test the productivity of its workers on the factory floor. Would the employees work differently in more or less light?
The answer? They became productive in more light . . . and less light. Productivity, it seemed, had nothing to do with the amount of light, but the fact that someone was watching did.
Almost a century later, employees may live in fear and just do what they are told, but today’s business does not work the same. The days of the business defining the individual are fading fast. Individuals — from employees in the workplace to customers in the marketplace — are defining how business serves them.
In other words, paying attention means something different today: Focus on the good of the entire company, or you will soon lose the ability to compete.
To do that, the best leaders have an abundance mentality. Coined by Steven Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, people with an abundance mindset or mentality believe in sharing resources, credit and the success of others. Its inverse is the scarcity mentality, in which leaders believe that for them to win, someone has to lose. It is a zero sum game — a game in which no one cares about the success of others, let alone see them as individuals.
During uncertain times — one that historically has negatively impacted businesses — leaders usually operate with a scarcity mentality and focus on what they don’t have, particularly growth. But instead of innovating their way to recreating growth, they start cutting things. And what is the first thing that gets cut or at the very least ignored with that mentality? The needs of the people who work there — particularly those in the middle and at the bottom of the ladder. To the scarcity-minded business owner, they are only expenses to be cut.
Yet, abundance-minded people are often most in touch with the business. In times of great uncertainty, they have already been looking for opportunities to grow and have learned to be more efficient — to do more with less. They don’t have a scarcity mentality, but they know what to do when resources are scarce: they have an abundance mentality in times of scarcity. That’s what their leaders need, too. They need to understand that scarcity in business is not just lacking enough resources and money; it’s about not having enough of the right talent as well.
Regardless of the environment you’re leading, adopting an abundance mentality enables you to better compete and grow, as it forces you to stay focused on your people to see opportunity in everything, take on an entrepreneurial attitude and anticipate the unexpected. More often than not, when you adopt an abundance mentality, you pay more attention to the details and are always in search for ways to maximize available resources. You are more self-aware of not just yourself, but the needs of your clients and employees. You appreciate the role they play in your success and the influence you have on each other’s significance. As such, you not only think about the here and now, but are much more strategic in how you navigate and plot a course for recreating growth in the future.
When you have an abundance mentality in a time of scarcity, the marketplace never passes you by because everyone operates as if they could lose momentum at any time and is constantly in search of the next big idea. They are hungry for more — in their passionate pursuit for endless possibilities. Departments and teams have no time for internal politics and conflicts fueled by silos where leadership agendas abound and disengaged employees lack the right mindset to perform at their best. They are too busy trying to drive sustainable growth and innovation.
They are hungry.
We must learn to be hungry again.
This starts with adopting what I call an innovation mentality, of which an abundance mentality is a key part. The innovation mentality is about survival, renewal and reinvention — to see opportunity and overcome adversity before circumstances force our hands. That’s what the 21st century leader must embody if he or she is to transform the future of the workplace, find success in the marketplace and regain global competitiveness in a changing and uncertain world.