Serve Well….what does that mean? Well in the Four Foundational Cornerstones, Serve Well really speaks to how an individual or an organization engages with the community around them. There are two basic ways that occurs. There is the charitable, not for profit aspect. Ideally, if the individual or entity is dealing from the Principle of TRUE, then it will be something they are both truly passionate about as well as truly invested in…time, treasure and talent. The second aspect is what I will refer to as the public relations component, which is really the outward facing communications role of an individual or entity. How are they telling their story to the world around them? I will leave that aspect of the conversation to the public relations professionals. My only comments here regarding PR will be to test those communications against the Principle of TRUE. And make certain those communications are true across all three other Cornerstones….Lead Well, Sell Well and Live Well.
Over the past 100 days we have seen just how poorly a catastrophic event can damage the story a company intended to tell. I do not know the true internal story. I do not know if BP was or is operating from the Principle of TRUE. Far be it from me to point my finger at BP’s embattled CEO. I have no idea what his true intent has been. There have been innumerable pundits who have commented on his actions with little that is positive. I personally have learned many times over that there are occasions when I have taken actions with no ill intent only to learn I have substantially offended someone else when that intent was not clear. I have learned I do not always tell my story the way I want it to be told, or more importantly, how I want it to be understood. It is for that very reason that Serve Well is one of the Four Cornerstones. It is for that very reason Masterplan Group Advisors focuses on helping professionals and organizations tell their story well. ..and consistently across all Four Foundational Cornerstones.
That said, as I noted in my earlier blog on Leading Well, the fact a leader’s intent may be misunderstood, misconstrued or miscommunicated, does not let the leader off the hook for the impact of how others experience his or her actions. The truly great writings warn those with aspirations to lead to be wary of the responsibility and accountability that comes with the role. When times are good, investment returns are strong, there are no leaks to plug, people are happy…then the leader is a rock star. But it is inevitable. Challenges will occur. We then find out if all of the Four Foundational Cornerstones are aligned. Is the story true? If the message the public is seeing and hearing is inconsistent with what leaders are living by…they will be exposed. If the story being told in the selling process is different than the reality the marketplace experiences, they will be found out. If a story is being told about the importance of people over process or profits, but reality does not support that, there will be implosion.
The story must be consistent…in all Four Cornerstones. If is not TRUE, then do not tell it. Tell the true story. Then when the inevitable storms come and true character is exposed, the Cornerstone of Serve Well will draw people to you. It is such a rare attribute today, but there may never have been a time in our history as a people where it has meant more.