Click on any corporate website, and the chances are you’ll find a page devoted to their company ethos. Why? Having a defined corporate ethos sets a culture, tone and character, creating a framework for individuals to come together and work as a collective. It’s also a reflection of the business’ core values and objectives.
At Vistage, our ethos is simple and clear: we want to help business leaders be the very best that they can be. The reciprocal nature of what we do makes it vital that we communicate our ethos of accountability, courage, passion, collaboration and advocacy, so that all our members can both embrace and benefit from them.
So what is our ethos and how exactly does it help business leaders?
When you become accountable, you take ownership of something. In business, it’s a crucial step to becoming a more effective, dynamic leader. By taking responsibility for your actions, choices and the overall performance of your team, you empower yourself to be able to fix and change things.
Accountable leaders do not procrastinate, they don’t under or over-commit themselves, they follow through with plans - and they’re not afraid to say ‘sorry’ when they make a mistake.
Importantly, they understand that strong leadership isn’t about isolationism or having all of the answers. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help or advice. Seeking advice from peers and support groups enables you to see things from a fresh, unbiased and informed perspective, which gives you the power to make changes in the future.
Perhaps the most all-encompassing element of our ethos, courage is a recurring characteristic in great leaders. We tend to think of it as a binary trait - you either have it or you don’t. The truth is - like the lion in The Wizard of Oz, who so desperately wants to be less fearful - we all have courage. All we need need is to be reminded sometimes.
To successfully grow a business, improve performance and nurture talent, leaders need to be able to face difficult truths, make tough decisions and take risks. You also need to have the courage to admit to your flaws and mistakes - which is often the most difficult aspect. When you lead with courage, you have the ability to dramatically transform the direction of your business. Crucially, you instil confidence in your team and inspire others to behave courageously.
Like laughter and positivity, passion is infectious. When you believe wholeheartedly in something, you have the power to energise and motivate those around you. Great leaders feel passionately about their goals and objectives: they know how to communicate that passion with others in order to ignite and inspire.
When people feel inspired, it contributes to a culture of commitment and positivity. The net result? Increased productivity, good morale and better retention of talent.
The idea of singular, wholly independent leaders is a myth - one which runs very deep. Culturally, we celebrate revolutionaries and great leaders by holding them up as lone wolves who single-handedly changed history: think of Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, Ghandi, or Martin Luther King. The truth is, while these figures were undoubtedly powerful leaders and visionaries, they didn’t do it alone. Real change and growth is always the result of a collective effort.
That’s why collaboration is the cornerstone of our ethos: without it, Vistage wouldn’t be Vistage. We believe that we grow and change when we reach out to others, when we ask questions, when we hear impartial opinions, when we help others reach their goals. By communicating with peers, we not only gain a greater understanding of ourselves and our business, we also help others to do the same. Sharing knowledge and insights in this reciprocal way helps to create a community based on trust, understanding and real value.
Our dynamic, connected community is built on our ethos. So for Vistage to operate effectively, these tenets need to be communicated to all our chairs, staff, members and future members. Like any community, when everyone understands and commits to the principles, everyone benefits from them. By advocating the Vistage ethos we also reach out to business leaders who may have not heard of us. This helps us to find new members, speakers and chairs, increasing our pool of shared knowledge and furthering our scope for collaboration.
The five elements that make up the Vistage ethos reflect exactly how our community works. Individually they hold some power, but collectively they have the power to engender real change. At its heart, our ethos is all about empowerment - empowering business leaders to unlock their true potential by harnessing and sharing the power of accountability, courage, passion, collaboration and advocacy. It’s these principles which allow us to realise our vision of helping leaders to achieve more than they ever imagined possible.