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When Employees Leave at Night, So Does Your Business

In the first thirty days following 9/11, the Blanchard Company lost $1.5 million. During the economic downturn that affected most companies at this time, Blanchard was losing between $350,000 and $400,000 a month. He did not lay off people or shutter the business (as many other businesses did) because he said it would be the wrong thing to do. Instead he said, "Here's the deal. This is what we've got to do. Let's break into task forces and look for ways to cut costs and increase sales. Let's see how we can all pull together."4 Employees responded by agreeing to cut their salaries and stop paying into the 401k. If people quit, it was agreed that they would not be replaced.

As Blanchard observed the sacrifice his employees made, he declared that when they pulled out of the slump, he would take everyone to Hawaii. In February of 2005, he followed through on his promise and took 350 people to Hawaii for a celebration.

When Blanchard discussed his decision to handle a crisis in this manner, he said, "You know, without your people, you are nothing. That is the biggest leadership mistake most people make. They think people and results are an either/or proposition rather than a both/and proposition. At the end of the day, when everybody heads home, your business just left. So leadership is about your people. If you turn around and nobody is following you, you are probably not leading."5

The result of a purpose-driven, triple-bottom-line company is a concept Blanchard calls the "Fortunate 500." What I love about this concept is that the meaning of business success is redefined. Companies in the future will be successful not by their size, but by the quality of service offered to customers and the quality of life experienced by employees.

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