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July 2008

Heart Power, Commitment & Continuous Improvement

“Once a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It is something we call ‘heart power’. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.” Vince Lombardi 

In other words, if you want to build success you have to win the ‘heart power’ of the people who work with you. Lack of employee engagement is a sure sign that an organisation does not have ‘heart power’: it has failed to win the hearts and minds of the people who work there.   

I am constantly dumfounded when describing the need to value people as ‘human assets’ and people say, “that’s all very well, but what difference does it make to the individual?” Clearly, what seems obvious to me is not obvious at all. 

Lombardi’s words may just help here. You see, my word for ‘heart power’ is ‘zeal’ and I believe that valuing people as assets is a catalyst for creating that zeal. It is not the value itself that is critical, but the process of establishing the value and the subsequent effort of maintaining and enhancing that value.

The simple act of assigning and declaring a value is a new step for managers and business owners; one that requires a new attitude that will shape new behaviours. Most significantly of all, however, it requires commitment.

The decision to place a value on people as human assets is permanent. Once taken, it is virtually impossible to rescind or revoke. Furthermore, the valuation process has to be consistent and transparent. This in turn will engender trust. More importantly though, it will be seen as a commitment, and commitment in any relationship is normally reciprocal. People will thus feel more appreciated and better about themselves and what they do, and be more engaged.

Lombardi also said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour.” By valuing people, an organisation creates a yardstick for individuals to consistently measure themselves. That is the root of “commitment to excellence” and drives any ‘continuous improvement’ initiative. 

Continuous improvement has to be universal. Valuing ‘human assets’ provides the springboard to secure this and to fuel the ‘heart power’ or ‘zeal’ for a more personally fulfilling – and ergo a more successful – life for the individual, with a multiplier effect on the organisation and society as a whole.