Sorry POTUS, But Good Business Does Require Heart

I recently read this quote attributed to President Trump:

Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government involves heart, whereas in business most things don’t involve heart. In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.

My take: No, no, no! This is wrong-minded, and very outdated thinking. To succeed, businesses must make emotional connections with customers, employees, and partners. The idea that success comes from being heartless promotes the debunked view that companies exist only to create value for shareholders. Here’s one of the points that I make in Modernized Leadership, which is an update to leadership theory:

Management focus has been driven by economists like Milton Friedman who argued that corporate officials have one core responsibility: making as much money as possible for their shareholders. But the value that a company creates comes from a combination of resources contributed by different constituencies (not just investors) who’s returns should also be maximized, especially employees who contribute their knowledge and skills.

POTUS is free to view his businesses as heartless entities that exist to increase his net worth. But I am hopeful that other leaders and emerging leaders don’t follow his lead. Even Jack Welch has rebutted the blind focus on shareholder value:

On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy… Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.

If you’re a leader, than I hope that you focus on engaging the hearts and minds of your employees, customers, and partners. Creating value for an entire eco-system is more sustainable and rewarding than counting your profits.

The bottom line: Businesses need even more heart.

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I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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