10 Ways Businesses Can Take the Lead

Feb 9, 2021 | Business, RoundTable

Current Trends in Public Opinion

Our national tracking shows more Americans see the country growing even further apart than we’ve seen in the last year. But, with the new administration and a new year, we also see hope and optimism at the highest level across the country.

Social order, as a societal value, has been significantly impacted for most Americans in recent months. And the road to recovery, the outlook ahead, is starkly different for the haves and have-nots in the country.

Trust in government and media institutions to tell us the truth and to address critical issues that need to be fixed has plummeted to record lows in our data. Who can people trust and turn to for leadership in this 2021 pandemic environment?

RELATED: 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer

Corporations Seen as the “Adult in the Room”, the Voice of Reason

Business team having a discussion in a meeting for inclusion and diversity

As companies have increasingly taken a stand on obvious wrongs in society and are prioritizing health and wellness of employees, customers, and communities, more Americans are looking to the business world as the “adult in the room”, as the voice of reason.

Studies are showing that business is viewed as both more ethical and more competent versus government and media. Two-thirds of Americans are expecting business and business leaders to take a role in societal issues. They want companies to increase transparency, accountability, engagement, and truly lead with purpose.

RELATED: The Return on Purpose: Before and During a Crisis

10 Ways Businesses Can Take the Lead

On February 5, 2021 Heart+Mind Strategies convened a discussion on the business case for leading the country to new horizons with Roy Spence, Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of GSD&M, and Niel Golightly, former Fortune 100 chief communications officer and current executive coach and business consultant. 

The dialogue yielded many powerful ideas for business leaders to consider as they navigate what and how to exert social leadership in building the success of their enterprise. Here is a summary list of key points from the discussion, on how business and business leaders can provide much needed stability, direction, and leadership in a pandemic culture.

  1. A crisis of civic and social leadership has been building for years, and the private and public sectors share responsibility. Corporations must play a role in the public good and not be solely about short-term shareholder gain. The business world needs social norms and public institutions to be working well. 
  2. Civic discourse, science, fact-based debate, and integrity in financial institutions represent the social contract the business community must embrace, must lead, must demand be the norm.
  3. Start by protecting your own people and making sure your own house is in order. “You might not be able to change the world, but you can change your world. Then, all of the sudden, if you’re taking care of your world, the world starts to get taken care of.”
  4. Build your business around purpose. Engage in social issues in ways that resonate organically with the way you do business. Find the problem you can solve and build your business around it.
  5. Lead people and solutions to “higher ground”, not just common ground.
  6. Create more “front porch” conversations using “mama’s rules” of listening to each other. Lead by example in facilitating civil discourse within your own spheres, then demand it through action in the communities you serve. 
  7. Reach across the aisle to work with other groups and organizations. “We need to put the ‘US’ back in USA.”
  8. Put your phone down and take a walk. Listen, learn, observe.
  9. Don’t engage in the middle-of-the-road issues; rather, take a stand on those issues “completely outside the bounds of what we would consider moral, principled civic discourse.”
  10. Know the value system of your key stakeholder audiences, then live it and lead it.

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