Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service, with Tia Tassava
Even if the driving forces propelling 2020’s continued challenges are different than anything we have faced in our lifetimes, whether 9/11 and its aftermath or the late 2000’s economic crisis, overcoming unprecedented challenges is certainly nothing new. When Covid-19 first appeared, spread, and now re-emerges, there have been countless comparisons to the late 1910’s Spanish Flu outbreak; there is historical pandemic precedent.
However, not only didn’t the 1918-1920 US economy struggle anywhere close to what we see today, people resisting masks and other forms of PPE were the outliers. Back then, wearing a mask was considered patriotic, the right thing to do for protecting oneself but, more importantly, protecting fellow citizens. It’s rather safe to say the record is far more mixed today. We’ve given this subject considerable thought and have further researched the reasons large chunks of the economy—particularly hospitality—remain trapped in a quagmire with little end in sight. Our analysis reveals a rather overlooked yet significant root cause.
Thankfully, the number of business gurus and the volume of books, articles, and seminars devoted to personal branding has subsided. Still, the damage caused by the self-indulgent personal branding craze continues to cast an evil spell on business. While personal branding advice certainly includes doing one’s job well, even encouraging adherents to step up, personal branding purpose is to build an individual’s stature above all else. Consequently, personal branding emphasizes self rather than a department, work team or greater organization, and its practice is undoubtedly at odds with constructive collaboration. Personal branding also emphasizes personal public relations as a virtue, a practice sadly unleashing countless influencers now rather dominant across pretty much all business-to-consumer categories. In effect and in sum, emphasis on the individual and self-promotion undermines any organizational capacity for responding to modest challenges, let alone full-blown crises.
Whether he wrote the literal words or something close, Aristotle is credited with The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the essence of high functioning organizations. For any business to sustain profitable growth in more normal business conditions, all stakeholders must be aligned around a common purpose. Naturally, these dynamics are more crucially necessary when confronted by challenges and are absolutely essential in crisis mode. It’s beyond impossible for any organization to rally to an occasion when members are more devoted to developing their own personal brand—a sum of parts if ever there was one—than constructively contributing to the whole’s vitality. Business stacked with even the most talented, highly skilled personnel consumed by developing a personal brand is the embodiment of Abraham Lincoln’s immortal A House Divided speech. With selfish branding interest over corporate interest, even an apparently congenial workforce starts as a divided house, sure to further fragment as individuals fret over what’s in for them or how they can exploit conditions for personal gain. Although it’s easier to identify people refusing to wear protective masks than it is employees more intent on developing a personal brand rather than committing to a greater corporate good, senior management must do just that.
This series of weekly columns has stressed proven business fundamentals, emphasizing full stakeholder engagement, and collaboration.
Employees, suppliers, or any stakeholder unwilling to actively participate; anyone withholding information or being too cute by half in disclosures, signaling greater interest in a protected sum rather than a willingness to further the whole’s greater business interests compounds risk in already volatile circumstances. More aggressive stakeholders prone to grandstanding or throwing sharp elbows at peers may be extremely competent but they erode corporate culture in the most profoundly insidious ways. Although the catalyst might be personal branding, senior management is no less culpable for allowing any business to become captive to solo artists at a time business must perform like a top symphony orchestra. Executive management’s leadership model, reinforcing corporate values and purpose, recognizing, and rewarding the right behaviors, and ensuring contributory actions are paramount for converting misguided self-promoters into key team-oriented contributors.
The brilliant and great Tom Nichols has written extensively on this subject. Although Professor Nichols is most noted for his international affairs work, as fundamentals his take on anti-rationalism dominating geopolitics very much applies to business. Personal branding—a manifestation of rejecting intellectual authority, expertise, collaboration, and reason—is about as egocentric as it gets. Problem-solving becomes infinitely more difficult, even unattainable if the course is navigated by a collection of individuals approaching every issue as CEO of Me, Inc. Leaders set the tone, cultivating the organization they invite. Our best advice remains ongoing self-reviews and continued managerial renewal; a key fundamental we wrote about mid-April. As always, we write about fundamentals and things the Day & Nite family of companies has successfully put into practice.
For hospitality and all aspects of its supply and demand chain, 2020 has been a bruising year, a fight for mere survival. That fight made even more difficult if there’s an internal battle of sums over the whole. By practicing the right leadership style and galvanizing an entire organization around meaningful objectives to consistently create and enhance superb internal and external customer experiences, 2020 has been a year of exceptional Day & Nite/All Service/Popular Plumbing growth. From launching new technologies for reducing cycle times and associated costs, to launching new service lines such as the comprehensive health, safety, and hygiene-focused Day & Nite Performance Solutions or Day & Nite Global Facilities Solutions, a truly inspired, committed team aligned around purposefully serving the whole of a hospitality sector by delivering greater value is the company’s absolute mission. If you are looking for assistance to propel the whole of your business to strengthen your corporate brand, we invite you to contact Day & Nite at firstname.lastname@example.org.