Every once in a while, you are privileged to witness the embodiment of what has become a buzzword, Servant Leadership - someone who is innately wired as a servant leader – authentic, genuine and sincere. I’m privileged to have met a few of these people in my career – in fact, five “someones” recently at a warm, welcoming, generous visit to Enterasys’s headquarters in Andover, MA. Two of the five, Vala Afshar and Brad Martin, have just written a 2012 & 2013’s Must Read book, The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence. To understand the power of this book, I need to tell you a story…of how I met them.
Last spring, I started noticing Vala’s insightful, kind, wise, and very human tweets. I reached out and he invited me to visit him on my way up to Maine this past September. I arrived and was greeted like a queen! To my incredible surprise, because Vala remembered our tweets about lobster, Brian Townsend, Director of Global Services and Ops, had prepared a feast of lobster tails with a risotto and an unimaginable dessert. How did Vala remember that I loved lobster? Because that’s how Vala, and Brad, and the rest of the team, are wired (no pun intended) – to be social, to care, to make sure others matter.
Brad and Vala don’t preach about why businesses must be social – they live it, everyday. Theirs is a real, living, breathing, continuous narrative about how a mid-market company refocused their culture to delight their customers by respecting and trusting their employees to focus on providing meaningful outcomes for their customers. They detail the why, how, when, and what in transforming the culture and flattening the organization. Vala and Brad share the culture’s benefits to their top line, bottom line and most importantly, human line. If you’ve read Steve Denning’s book, The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, you’d think he was writing about Enterasys – and he was!
When you read this book, as you should, don’t start making excuses as to why it doesn’t “really” apply to. You’d be lying to yourself and closing the door to creating an excellent company. The pursuit of social business excellence applies to any company making any thing that touches any one in any form, not just technology companies. The fundamental building block of Enterasys’ success is not technology – they make that loud and clear – it’s people. Technology can make being a social business easier, but it can’t make it happen. People do.
Please read The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence. Think about how you can adapt some of these ideas for your own organization. It may seem scary – you may lose the perception of the control you never really had; you may realize you’ve made some bad hires and constrained some great ones; your customers may see behind the curtain. Yet, overcome the fears, because the rewards are so great, on so many levels.