We were very happy when Christine Daspro, VP of The Leaders Investment (TLI), Denver, Colorado, spoke to our monthly entrepreneurs’ group.
We listened intently to her story. She explained the fifteen-year history and current services of TLI, the new brand of the Women’s Vision Foundation. Soon we realized this is a long-lasting, complex, and adaptive enterprise. It is a full-bore leader development organization with a payroll, customers, and a wide network of many resources—corporate sponsors as well as subcontractors—just like many entrepreneurial business enterprises.
Any aspect of a company culture that sustains an enterprise through startup and on for 15 years is important to entrepreneurs. Most startups barely last five. So we asked, “What were the founders—already an experienced and successful group of women leaders—thinking when they established the mission of this organization?”
The founders’ insight shows us a company culture that might sustain almost any enterprise.
Christine told us the wise women who started what is now TLI, and I am paraphrasing, wanted to share their expertise and bring along the future generations of women leaders. That is, they did not want to leave them behind.
You might wonder how a culture set up to develop and bring others along could sustain itself for 15 years.
No doubt, you have heard the motto, “No one left behind”, endorsed in several branches of the U.S. armed forces. It is more than just a motto. Remember the iconic image of gritty men and women soldiers helping their overwhelmed buddies navigate through a smoky field of battle? Of putting their own lives at risk while saving their “coworkers?” Maybe this practice comes from an early lesson from scouting “The group hikes only as fast as our slowest member“. In both instances, the underlying value is to bring our colleagues along and not abandon them.
While you might agree in principle with these high-minded values, you may still doubt their application to the hard-nosed and practical world of business. Unless, that is, you know how the late physicist, Eli Goldratt, connected scouts on a hike with business production processes.
For years, speed to market and speed of production have been mantras to gain a competitive business advantage. In 1959, as manufacturing companies searched for more speed, they started installing production robots. Yet, worker stress went up as production speed still stalled. Then in the 1980’s, Eli Goldratt, explained how the methods scouts followed on their hikes could speed up a company’s production robots.
Goldratt showed how a scout troop on a hike was able to walk faster by placing the slowest scout at the front of the hikers and redistributing the extra weight in his backpack to others along the line. In this way, it was not necessary to leave anyone behind or to slow the troop down from his or her natural speed, when loaded. They all arrived at their destination.
What if you created a “No one left behind” culture in your organization?
The wise founders set a sustaining culture in place when they began to understand the needs and relationships of aspiring women leaders. Then they shared their knowledge and expertise with these aspiring women leaders so they could develop their own skills.
For leaders who mentor and mentees who learn, both benefit when no one is left behind. Bringing women leaders along means they are more likely to arrive at peak performance, and in time to overcome their unique challenges. With the new brand at TLI, this same opportunity is now extended to aspiring male leaders, as well.
You too can foster such a culture at your work and home—where everyone pitches in and makes sure all can fulfill their reasonable work requirements, no matter how stressful or short their deadlines.