I frequently discover unexpected overlap between my Winds of Peace life and that of the employee-ownership community. One such occasion occurred this past week as I prepared to address a business audience in Houston, Texas. The topic of presentation was “Leading In Tough Times,” and the implication was that perhaps there are some special tactics that leaders might use in times such as these, some magic that can somehow alleviate or at least reduce the pain of the current economic reality. In preparation, I polled a number of experienced people from within The ESOP Association community, collecting wisdom from a wide range of perspectives and circumstances. And I arrived at an interesting conclusion: that virtually nothing in what I heard was particularly new or unfamiliar. The basic tenets of good ESOP company management which we’ve learned over the past couple of decades- broad participation, organizational transparency, open-book management, continuous improvement methodology, constant teaching and learning- still constitute the very best strategies for survival. Aside from the management wisdom of this, I think there’s another reason for these survival techniques to have emerged.
These issues transcend management and employee ownership and profitability. They represent response to universal human needs, not simply desires. They are the same needs that I encounter in working with our partner organizations in Nicaragua. Human beings function at their full capacity when they are invested in their day-to-day lives, when they know the truth, when they understand personally and clearly what they must do to create desired outcomes, when they are given the latitude and process to use what they know. When human beings are provided the opportunity to learn, they also teach, and the chances for fulfillment are multiplied exponentially. This is how the human creature thrives and why the strategies articulated by my ESOP contacts are so fundamentally true.
It’s true in companies and organizations everywhere, Nicaragua or the U.S. As Winds of Peace continues its work in Nicaragua, we’ll make it a priority to never forget the truth of those human needs. Managers of companies and political leaders of nations can attempt to bend the truth of these universal needs, but they won’t subvert the reality of them.