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How Strategy Builds Community

Man is by nature a social animal. Society is something that precedes the individual.
— Aristotle

A lot can happen in a year, and heading into the start of 2017, it’s probably a good idea to compare wisdom that can help you run your business, such as that quote from Aristotle, to powerful but erratic forces that can derail you.

And 2016 tried to derail you in many ways. It got off to a wild start on January 4, its first business day, when the Shanghai stock market crashed, taking every other stock market on the planet right along with it. On January 17, the price of oil bottomed to it’s lowest level in twenty-six years, causing a global sell-off of the energy sector and sending high-yield debt markets into turmoil. The U.S. labor market spent the first half of the year sputtering for air, posting such weak growth in May that it slashed the stock market, the dollar and Treasury yields simultaneously. The Europeans’ banking industry buckled, plunging in value, as some countries started offering their sovereign debt at negative interest rates. 

The News Changes...

Run for the hills, right? Nope, not by a long shot. Level-headed business leaders kept a steady hand on the wheel and didn’t succumb to temporary temptations or distractions. 

And that paid off. As of this writing, the U.S. economy has expanded every quarter for 10 quarters, including the ones described above. Unemployment is at it’s lowest level in almost a decade. When the Federal Reserve raised rates on Treasury bonds, Chairwoman Janet Yellen said it was “a vote of confidence in the economy.” J.P. Morgan Chase says the chances of a recession in the near future are only one in four. And the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average is on the verge of closing at USD$20,000 for the first time in history.

So no matter what happens this January, focusing on Aristotle’s timeless wisdom might be better for your business than attempting to respond to the latest economic news.

Aristotle Doesn’t

Here’s how. Your company is a society unto itself, and everyone in it can be affected by outside forces. When bad or scary news screams from every headline, it naturally affects your people. You can’t change that. 

But you can change how they respond to it at work, and you can build your business at the same time, by thinking of your team in terms of a society. Your people will talk about the headlines, good and bad, and it will affect their mental state and occupy their conversations. You want to be sure those conversations don’t bleed into wondering about the health of your business or the stability of their employment. If your team believes that headlines may have some impact upon their well-being at work, you risk losing a great deal of their attention and care to their anxieties. It can infect your workforce and from there it can infect your partners and customers.

It’s not a trivial matter. “Visionary leaders communicate the superordinate goals of the organization” to their people, the Harvard Business Review explains, including “how all the divisions, departments, and project teams are necessary for achieving these goals.” That way, when outside forces seem to threaten the business (or the world in general), your employees will have a confidence-building perspective. Rather than wonder if the Shanghai stock market might bring down their paycheck, they’ll understand exactly how your business makes money. Rather than fretting about the nation’s unemployment rate, they’ll understand exactly how they, personally, help your company succeed.

That perspective plays directly into Aristotle’s timeless wisdom. The society that is your company becomes a tribe banded together. Individuals within your tribe understand their professional identity in terms of how well they help your business succeed. And as social animals, they’re bought into the society you provide and they will, by nature, take care of it.

So make 2017 your year. Let all the economic numbers flow by while you lead your team to success. We can help you there. There’s no magic practice that makes participation and performance happen. But there is a method. Anyone can do it, regardless of their charisma. Get started by signing up for our series: