Bigger than the bottom line

July 2014

Justin recently did an interview for the Millennial Leader Podcast (full interview found here) and was asked about the challenges that come along with leadership and being in the millennial generation. I absolutely loved three points that he and the host discussed. Below, I took the three main points from the podcast that struck me most and expanded on them from my point of view as a CFA team member:

 1.     Our mission is bigger than the bottom line

While this may seem obvious, I think it is an extremely important discussion topic. By even discussing this point, we acknowledge that a bottom line exists. At CARE for AIDS we understand that each donation is an investment, and we are eager to show a return on that investment in many ways. For example, by supporting a CARE for AIDS client, donors are helping extend that client’s life so that they can raise their children. For every dollar we spend in orphan prevention, we save the global economy $70 in orphan care costs. That’s a pretty good bottom line. But we know that economics can’t hold a candle to the impact that the program and the Kenyan staff have on individuals’ lives. Our mission is bigger than the bottom line, and that helps guide us every day.

2.     Your capacity to learn determines your capacity to lead

This is a defining trait for the CARE for AIDS team, both in the US and in Kenya. Growing up, my dad always told me  “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”. Humility and a constant posture of learning are traits that I am so thankful are part of our work culture, and that I am constantly learning to implement in other aspects of my life as well.

3.     Collaboration should replace competition

This one is definitely a favorite- and I think that all organizations should embrace this, whether non-profit or for-profit. Justin wrote an article that expands on this principal at the beginning of the year, and we have all seen the benefit of collaboration in recent months. I like to look at collaboration from a broad lens, though, and not just in the context of business partnerships. One of the most impactful pictures of collaboration we have seen in 2014 is what the White family was able to do by collaborating with their community.  Their collaboration in fundraising allowed us to open and fund a new center in just 90 days.

I am generally not one to get excited over leadership principles or business practices, but these three aspects of the CARE for AIDS work culture absolutely inspire me. Each point can be lived out both in a work context and a personal context, which is where our true leadership and work ethic tend to play out.

As you finish out your work week, what are some business/leadership principles that you can implement in your everyday interactions?