People Over Profit
Author: Dale Partridge
By: Javier Ortega – Araiza
“Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that”.
Herb Kelleher, Co-Founder, Southwest Airlines
Many of the most celebrated business and leadership achievements in history have been possible due to the great ability of a leader to keep a team together and steer it towards a higher purpose. One of the most heroic achievements of the recent times, Ford’s saving from bankruptcy by former CEO Alan Mulally, was possible due to Mulally’s “One Team” and “One Ford” approach which fixed the broken culture that prevailed within the automaker and returned employees the sense of belonging to a greater cause. Companies like Southwest, which pioneered the low-cost airline model in the United States, and Virgin, led by Sir Richard Branson, have built admirable corporate cultures. One of Branson’s maxims at Virgin goes by “Train people well enough so they can leave, but treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. Virgin companies are highly recognized because of their fun and engaging culture which in turn increases productivity and reduces employee turnover. Southwest’s co-founder Herb Kelleher also early spotted this benefits and has incorporated a highly inclusive leadership style. “A company is stronger if it is bound by love, rather than fear”, declared Kelleher, one of the most admired business leaders of the past decades. As someone who has been a client of Southwest and many other North American airlines, I can tell that Kelleher’s approach has made an outstanding difference for the good.
The ability of treating people well and making them feel valued also determines how they will react when tough times place the company in the wake of crisis. At Southwest, the team got together to create the famous “10-Minute-Turnaround”, to unload and load planes faster than everyone else, and that saved the company from going bust. At FedEx, the priority shipping and delivery behemoth, pilots often paid for fuel with their own credit cards because there was not enough cash in the company’s coffins. In addition, the way employees are treated goes reflected in the way they treat customers, to the point that customers can also help saving a company. When the now $14 billion supermarket chain Whole Foods Market started, it was initially destroyed by a flood that wiped out founder John Mackey’s savings and left them with roughly $400,000 in inventory losses. Then customers came and helped clean and revive the store to keep it afloat, with it eventually reopening. After this examples, it is clear that from a business standpoint treating people well eventually also pays off.
On People Over Profit, Sevenly’s founder Dale Partridge goes over how prioritizing people over profit will create enormous benefits for both the individual and the organisation, eventually boosting profits to higher levels than if only profits were prioritized and generating an environment where people love their work and therefore increase their productivity because they are committed to a cause. Partridge tells the story of how he founded Sevenly, a company that produces clothes that are designed to inspire positivity and change. As a part of its charitable and socially-conscious component, Sevenly partners with different not-for-profit organisations and donates $7 of every sale to them. In this way, it has raised millions of dollars for different charities.
Throughout the book, Dale Partridge mentions the seven key beliefs of companies that effectively value people over profit, empowering its people to reach their full potential: