It was in 2010 when I traveled with a small group of people to Galapagos Islands. I’m enthusiastic about nature, and the pictures from the islands I saw were incredible. The reality was even better. We landed in Quito, Ecuador and already had our permit to the Galapagos Islands pre-paid.
That is right, the islands are part of Ecuador, and still, you need a special permit in your passport to get there as a tourist. It allows the government to regulate a number of visitors coming to this natural wonder and to make some money in the process. Money that is used to keep the islands in good shape.
We flew from Quito to Puerto Moreno on the island of San Cristobal in Galapagos. After landing at the airport, we transferred to a boat that would be our home for the next week. The first words I heard from our local guide when he met us on board were, “There is one important rule here on Galapagos Islands. Please, don’t step on any animals.”
We laughed, but the guide was dead serious. Over the next couple of days as we cruised between Espana, Floreana, Isabela, and Santa Cruz islands and had an opportunity to step on land numerous times we understood why.
There are no natural predators on the Galapagos Islands, and so the animals tend to ignore you. They don’t run scared away from you. They just keep doing whatever they were doing even if you walk right next to them. Starting with the iguanas, giant tortoises, through waved albatrosses, blue-footed boobies, flamingos, to the huge numbers of sea lions and fur seals everywhere.
It is easy to step on these animals if you are not careful. During our visit, it was more and more clear that only by strictly enforcing the rules and by limiting access to a manageable number of tourists this haven of earth can be maintained.
And not just for the sake of nature, but also for the economics of the country. Tourists pay 100 USD entrance fee to the archipelago. Why? To have the opportunity to walk among the animals and marvel at this piece of nature. What would happen if tourists outnumbered the animals? No one will come to visit anymore, and nature may also not recover.
So what does this mean for you and your corporate life?
Always understand what your strategic resources are and take good care of them. You can hear in the corporate world very often that, “people are our most valuable resource,” but very few managers actually mean it. It is the right thing to say. It is a different story to act that way every single day.
How do you take care of the natural resources? You have to focus on a couple of key areas.
You need to use your resources efficiently. You should always try to get the most of any resource you have. If you can get only twenty percent efficiency from your gallon of fuel, you need five times as much of it as if you could raise it to hundred percent.
You need to make sure that the use of the resources is sustainable. Yes, you can decide to cut down a hundred trees today to make more furniture, but they won’t grow back as fast as you need so tomorrow’s input will be diminished.
You need to use your resources effectively. Yes, you can use the land you own in the middle of the city to build a large factory, but you can get higher profit by building an office park. It is not always only about efficiency but also about effectivity.
You need to find ways to expand your resources. If you are breading racing horses, you want the best animals you can get. You want to expand the gene pool. You want to breed the best of the lot. You want to make sure they get every opportunity to become the best.
If you are saying that people are your key resource I would ask you these questions.
How do you ensure you are using people efficiently? Is everyone clear on what they are supposed to be doing? Are the communication channels clear? Does everyone know what and how it needs to be done? Are there any bottlenecks in decision-making processes?
How do you ensure you are making their productivity sustainable? Does everyone have the right amount of work? Are you overloading some people on the team to the verge of burn-out? Are there ways the team can rest and reenergize after especially tough periods?
How do you ensure that you are using people effectively? Is everyone working on the right tasks? Do people have the right priorities? Is the whole team aligned with achieving the most value-added work for the company?
How do you ensure you are growing your employees as individuals? Do you have training plans in place? Is everyone clear on what they need to do to get to the next level? Do you spend time mentoring and coaching the people around you? Do you care about others? Will they become more skilled professionals and better human beings working with you?
There is one more question to ask when dealing with human beings. How do you ensure that they want to work with you? People might be a resource from company’s perspective, but they are a resource that can walk away on its own or that can decide not to be used by the company in the first place. And this doesn’t apply only to employees, but also to partners, suppliers, and customers.
So every time you have a conversation with your employees, partners, suppliers, or customers, the people you rely on to be successful, tell to yourself, “Please, don’t step on any animals.”
What are your tips and tricks on how to work well with the natural resources you’ve got? Do you believe that people are your best resource? What does it mean for you?
Photo: TweSwe / Pixabay.com
I’m gathering material for a book about introversion, leadership and successful careers, and I would love to hear from you! If you are an introvert, who has a successful career and/or who moved to a leadership role, I would like to ask you to share your experience with me. I prepared a couple of short survey’s that will make it easy for you: Strengths of successful introverts (What strengths introverts have that can help them be successful?); Blueprint of a successful career (What is required for a successful career?); Strategies for introverted leaders (As an introverted leader what strategies do you use to lead and manage others effectively?)