Leading By Example: Altruism Must Not Just Be Professed, But Practiced An excerpt from "Getting to Resilient Mode," a book written by Tariq Chauhan, Group CEO of EFS Facilities Services Group.
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Altruism for business leaders and companies is no longer just another attribute of good governance. It is a requirement to keep employees fully engaged, and to help the organization realize its wider goals. One critical aspect of altruism is to demonstrate to your employees that the company stands for the holistic good of stakeholders, not just profits and management interests. CEO posturing and actions need to transcend beyond self-good and shareholders, and, instead, reach out to all stakeholders.
Conventional employee engagement methods are no longer sufficient to maintain a healthy connection between employees and the organization. More importantly, it must consist of definitive actions backed by shared goals. At EFS, we have tried our best to build trust in something very specific, and that is self-good and constant evolution. We have been attempting to align individual goals and ambitions to the shared organizational vision, where there is a common good for all.
Building trust among colleagues is a requirement that all managers need to achieve. For an employee to have faith in their bosses, the company's strategy and values need to be aligned with the principles of altruism. It is not just for the CEO to adopt altruism- the company as a whole needs to embrace it.
In any organization, managers must rise to be both mentors and guides. They have to adapt themselves through continued self-development of the relevant capabilities and personality traits this role demands. To achieve such a stature, the executives in these positions have to connect with employees in a more personal way. The staff must be able to differentiate their manager from that of a preacher to one who "walks the talk." All employees must be able to seek counsel from their superiors, and not fear any reprisals from disclosures they might make.
As a CEO, I knew I needed to lead with altruism from the top. I developed multiple avenues to connect with my employees, especially with the frontline workers, where building trust was paramount to strengthening altruism's pillars. In their moment of earnest need, I prioritized compassion over red tapes. I made sure I took decisions, and that I could drive impact through my related actions, such as guaranteeing 100% job safety, education for needy and deserving children, funding for elderly parents, and assisting any employee in their dire needs. Above all, I ensured that I led an organization where compassion with merits is embedded in the organization's mainstream and prioritized.
Getting To Resilient Mode by Tariq Chauhan. Source: EFS Facilities Services Group
Bosses need to strengthen their core values to be able to demonstrate the stature of a real leader. There are salient approaches that differentiate leaders from followers. Not just through overtures such as getting to know employees by name, but in knowing everything about the employees, their health, family, and even finances. No, this is not an indulgence, but a much-needed effort often ignored by leaders and organizations.
It is equally essential that organizational values concerning leadership -especially those that focus on the inclusivity element- are retained, while the company is continually transforming. The communication strategy from the board has to be emphatic to ensure that all policies are well-articulated and understood across all levels.
A company must build an effective communication strategy based on inclusivity, and not just media showcasing. It must focus not only on an external audience to support the brand, but also on its internal channels to boost employee engagement. All developments such as board changes, any management restructuring, acquisitions, and outstanding contributions of unsung heroes must be highlighted across the organization.
A pressing need is to initiate employee engagement for organizations with a sizeable blue-collar population. To gain their trust is of utmost importance, as their self-actualization goals are quite different and complex, with elements that can differ from the white-collar staff. Their concerns about living conditions, family connectivity, and finances are paramount to building an apt engagement strategy. Encouraging health and wellbeing awareness, as well as supporting financial planning and discipline among less-privileged employees are initiatives that can significantly influence employees' engagement and inspiration.
While HR teams can manage routine grievances and counseling needs, it is up to the bosses at every level to co-own this responsibility. It should not just be left to the human resource departments to take on this responsibility. Still, the entire leadership quadrant must have the mettle to engage their teams to drive enterprise ownership. Team engagement is not just about work performance, but also the need to adopt more inclusive participation where their development and happiness is the focal point, and not just work-related key performance indicators (KPIs).
This is an edited excerpt from Getting to Resilient Mode, an corporate advisory written by Tariq Chauhan, Group CEO, EFS Facilities Services Group, which sees him share how one can harness -and even be strengthened by- the power of adversity.