Shhhhh… listen for the heartbeat of your company

The world’s oldest company Kong Gumi operated in Japan for over 1400 years until it was absorbed into Takamatsu in 2006.

Businesses are mortal just like humans. I like to believe that every business has a heartbeat. When an idea is nurtured to a point it takes a life of its own, a new “heart” starts beating. The business goes through its evolution. People come and go but the heart keeps beating through wins, fails and growing pains.

There are companies with heartbeats you can hear in every corner of the world. Walt Disney is long gone but the spirit of his idea is going strong even after 50 years and it continues to evolve perhaps beyond his own imagination. I am sure every employee, customer or potential customer can hear Disney’s heartbeat. Apple’s heart is also beating strong. Is the idea of Apple bigger than the Steve Job’s original vision and his leadership? I’m not quite sure yet. Let’s let it play out for a couple decades.

In every company’s lifetime, there are inspiring movements of growth that spark a renewed hope among its people. Passionate leaders get everyone to rally around their great vision and when success is delivered, the stock price goes up and everyone’s happy. The heartbeat gets easier to hear.

Then there are the rough patches. Leadership gaps allow clouds of doubt to linger in and people start wondering if the company is headed in the right direction. Will they have a job? Why does the grass seem greener elsewhere?

Driven and positive people find motivation in their own ways unaffected by these morale recessions. How do you become that person?  Well, ask yourself if you can hear the heartbeat of the company. If so, how loud?

Just to be clear the question is not whether your company has a heartbeat or not. It does. If the business offers a product or service and has at least one customer willing to buy it, it has a heart beat as far as I am concerned. The only question is whether you can hear it or not. If you can’t hear it, have you tried harder? How hard? Have you tried shutting out the noise?

My followers know that I talk a lot about change management. Looking back at my career, I realized the first thing I always did after joining a company was to listen for its heartbeat. I was always able to find it. It always worked for me. It still drives me today.

I ask you to listen for the heartbeat of the company you work for.  Once you find it, pace yourself with it. Let it grow on you. Draw energy from it. Problems will seem like minor setbacks and you’ll be too busy solving problems and leading rather than being consumed by doubt.

That’s when you’ll be a real change agent.

Animated GIF: Courtesy of  Shinsuke Matsumoto