Leadership with heart

November 14, 2021

Written by PS


Are your dreams just for yourself or are they for other people too?

Recently I watched a documentary about a  businessman who went from having huge debt and almost filing for bankruptcy, to running a successful construction business.

Thinking about his story, there are some elements of his success that caught my attention.

First, he was not a business graduate or any university graduate in general. He was just a simple hard-working man, with a big dream. He was not from a rich family either, and he had modest resources at his disposal.
The first time he tried to invest to build a business in construction, doing what other entrepreneurs were doing, he was unsuccessful and that left him with a few million in debt, making him reach a point where he was thinking that he would be content even to pay his debts and gets a job.
Then, when one of the financial crises hit, it was the moment when he realized that he should not follow what other builders were offering, but focus on what customers need and afford to pay.  At that point, he started developing a complex of apartments, better sized for the customers’ needs, at a lower price and higher quality. As soon as he launched this project, the customers started lining up before the apartments were even built and the orders he got were so many, that he was able to build these apartments and pay all of his debt in under one year.

The dream (the vision)

Until this point, the story has nothing to do with a different kind of Leadership and it doesn’t say anything about this businessman’s “secret”.  We will get there in a moment.

Let’s look first at his dream.

His dream was to leave a heritage,  impact the community, and create communities, not just buildings, to enrich people’s lives, not just provide them with a roof over their heads. And this dream was not just for his customers, but also his employees.

Listening to him talking about his employees, he was calling them his colleagues and his extended family (even if they were over 100 people working for him), as his dreams involved them as well. To make this a reality, same as making a friend, during the hiring phase of every employee working for him, the most important part was learning about the candidate as a person and how working in his business will potentially enrich the employee’s life. Yes, the person was still expected to have the education and the skills for the job, but the main focus was on the person, not credentials. The way the candidate treats others was also one of the key elements in the hiring decision.

As an example of his care, after building about 1000 apartments, the businessman decided to take a vacation, but the surprise was that he decided to take all his employees with him on that vacation, fully paid for by him.

Also, he decided to have himself and his family living in one of the apartments he built, in the middle of the community which were his customers. He extended this opportunity also to all his employees. This way he made sure that if any of the customers have anything to complain about, he and his employees will be easy to reach.

Using emotions/heart to make (business) decisions is not always detrimental, in particular when we have other people’s well-being in mind.

As mentioned earlier, the dream of this businessman was not just to build apartments, but to create community, so he invested in each complex in amenities and even events to have people interact, communicate and develop relationships, building this way stronger communities.

But his dreams didn’t stop there, his plans expand to invest in health and education, as he believes that these are the foundation of a strong society.

After acquiring wealth and becoming a millionaire, most would expect that his focus will be just to make more money, but in his own words, he said that he doesn’t need anything extra for him but he wants to invest more and more in his employees (colleagues) and community.

Talking about his decision process and if he is using rationale or emotions, he very quickly replied that he is using his heart.

Coffee Cup - What good shall I do today?

Lesson learned

Now, what I have learned from this example:
♥ One thing is that not only the rational decision will be smart decisions and will make you successful.
♥ Second, dream big but dream for other people’s well-being too. Investing in people is more rewarding and can bring you success as well.
♥ Third, treat people as people, no matter what your role/situation is in relation to them. People will react to you in most cases the way you treat them.
♥ Forth, seek to do good and promote leadership with heart.

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