Lousy Guys Finish Last

Edition: June 2002 - Vol 10 Number 06
Article#: 1264
Author: Repertoire

The most profound transformation in business – a transformation made more urgent, not less so, by the calamitous events in New York and Washington, DC – is the downfall of the barracudas, sharks, and piranhas and the ascendancy of nice, smart people with a passion for what they do. Forget about the Internet for a moment. Forget about Wall Street and the Fed. What's really different about the economy is that lousy guys finish last.

There are two tough-minded reasons for this soft-hearted reality. The first is the abundance of choice in business – choice of products, schools, media, and career paths. Choice spells doom for villains. At a time when more of us have more options than ever, there's no need to put up with a product or service that doesn't deliver, a company that we don't like, or a boss whom we don't respect. The second reason is what I call the "new telegraph." It's almost impossible for a shoddy product, a noxious company, or a crummy person to keep its, his, or her sad reality a secret anymore. There are too many highly opinionated and well-informed people with access to email, instant messaging, and the Web….The bottom line: If you don't like certain people, it's easier than ever to escape them.

…What we need is a definition of love in our professional lives. Here's mine: Love is the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your knowledge, networks, and compassion with your business partners. The secret to being a high-impact leader and the essence of individual and corporate success: Learn as much as you can as quickly as you can and share your knowledge aggressively; expand your network of people who share your values and connect as many of them with each other as possible; and, perhaps most important, be as openly human as you can be and find the courage to express genuine emotion in the harried, pressure-filled world of work. And one last point: Behave this way not because you expect something in return – a quid pro quo – but because it's the right way to behave. The less you expect in return for acts of professional generosity, the more you will receive.