The Owner’s Mindset: How Open Book Leadership Empowers Employees
For employees, what is an owner’s mindset? And how does open book leadership give employees total responsibility over their jobs?
The shockwaves reverberating through our economy as a result of the pandemic aren’t expected to subside anytime soon. The skyrocketing numbers of those laid off, and the businesses shuttering their doors or at grave risk of doing so, has rocked the very foundation of our great entrepreneurial nation.
The long-term impact of all this turmoil creates uncertainty everywhere. From our local neighborhoods and downtowns, to state and federal agencies., to nearly every workplace, no one is immune. As a result, many business leaders are looking for a way to recover by rethinking their businesses and finding new, innovative practices.
Now is our opportunity to rethink how to best manage staff and take maximum advantage of their collective talent. In today’s tumultuous times, it’s both unfair and unwise to leave employees benched on the sidelines worried about whether their jobs are safe.
We need to change the game by embracing open book leadership.
The Case for Open Book Leadership
Many tensions exist in business today that could easily be resolved through transparency and financial education. Business owners who have been skeptical about open book leadership – the sharing confidential business information with their employees. Those leaders, however, fail to see that sharing the financial picture of the company – good or bad – doesn’t scare people off. In fact, it eliminates misperceptions and provides an enormous opportunity to get people on board with fixing problems.
To get to better decisions, company leaders need to treat their people like owners. So they can understand the company’s full potential, they need to guide them through the financials. So they can grasp the challenges ahead, they must give them the information needed to let them come up with solutions. Most important, open book leadership gives staff a stake in the outcome.
The more we teach staff about our company’s financial health, the smarter and more conservative they become with the company’s money. Because they begin to think of it as their money.
Opening the Books: Our Story
When it comes to financial literacy, we have a huge knowledge gap in our country. In our corporation, we’ve spent more than 40 years closing that gap. Every associate in our corporation is taught how to speak the language of business. We call this open-book leadership system “The Great Game of Business.”
Our end goal has always been to build a business around people who think and act like owners. At every turn, they are taught the tools needed to take control of their destinies. At every opportunity, they are empowered to develop plans that create and protect their jobs and help grow the company.
Within our company, transparency and financial literacy builds a foundation of trust for each of us to stand on going forward. That trust eliminates a fear people many people have: That they can’t understand the business numbers. By conquering that fear, we give our associates the information they need, in a way that makes sense to them, so they can make the best decisions.
Teach and share the numbers with everyone in the company, and three things happen:
- As a leader, you inspire trust and confidence
- People engage in creating their vision of the future
- The entire organization unites around shared goals
Developing a New Language
Changing the game – by teaching people the game of business – works. Throughout the world, we’ve seen it happen in thousands of companies. Each has created a better future for themselves, their associates, and their communities.
Our Great Game All-stars, for example, represent 29 companies across 22 industries. Through the pandemic, when lay-offs became commonplace, leadership and employees have worked together to save 3,385 jobs to date. And over the past two years, the average annual profit growth for these companies was 125 percent – or 6-times greater than their industry benchmarks.
Taking The Leap to Open Book Leadership
We understand: Taking that first step might require a giant leap of faith — and a lot of hard work. Just like we’ve seen the undeniable value of adding STEM courses to school curriculums, however; we need to increase financial literacy in the workplace. Our academic institutions, despite several chances to add this human value to their learning models won’t do it. So we businesses leaders must become the teachers.
Teaching financial literacy requires the same immersive approach that schools take when teaching students a foreign language. We need to speak it all day, every day. And we do that until the words and phrases become routine — and the language becomes commonplace across the entire company. That language crosses departments. It helps us work together. It highlights where we make a difference to each other – something we need now more than ever.
Building a Better Quality of Life
Teaching people the language of business results in much more than financial success.
Empowered, informed associates make recommendations that fix real problems. Because they have a say in the company’s direction, they work harder and smarter. Finally, a transparent open book management system gives them the ability to understand what they need to lead a secure and fulfilling life.
Opening up the rules of business – providing everyone the information on which to act – may not solve every problem your company faces. But giving staff the insider information formerly reserved for owners alone empowers everyone to take responsibility for their jobs. By understanding the big picture, they gain a sense of pride and ownership. They know their work, and their decisions, make a difference.
Take the leap. Incorporate open book leadership – “The Great Game of Business” – in your operations. Your employees will feel trusted and empowered. Which makes your suddenly transparent business that much stronger – and more ready to take on any challenge ahead.