Last night I had the opportunity to hear Tom Chappell, co-founder and CEO of Tom's of Maine, speak on values-centered leadership. You probably know Tom for his natural toothpaste and other various natural products. He presented his company as a Case Study with an emphasis on the various trials and tribulations of developing a business that was consistent with one's values. Tom sees himself as a sort of self-made man who operated from an intuitive level as opposed to an MBA--business school approach. Nonetheless, he is clearly infused with the entrepreneurial spirit which is apparently a family tradition.
I must say the presentation was inspiring---it is refreshing to see someone so obsessed with the notion of being totally consistent with his values. How hard is that today? To give up short term gains for long term benefits and sustainability. To risk failure and avoid taking the easy road because you are paying more attention to the heart than the head?
Of course Tom's success is not based solely on fluffy, intuitive, "go with the flow" behaviors and he spoke highly of a very talented Board of Directors that helped to guide him along the way.
The main takeaway for me: One can be successful and profitable while also living with integrity. This is a lesson that is sure to benefit any leader in business (or politics) today!
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