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Enthusiasm is Essential for Organisational Success

Why the Right Kind of Enthusiasm is Essential for Organisational Success

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing of your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas”.

Henry Ford

To have ‘enthusiasm’ according to the Oxford online dictionary is to have ‘intense and eager enjoyment, interest or approval’ [1]. Another word that is similar would be ‘passion’.  What we have come to learn from our in-depth research with entrepreneurs and business owner-managers is the crucial role that enthusiasm plays in achieving growth. It is one of the ten characteristics that we have identified are central to personal and organisational success, and we will be exploring each of these characteristics live on the radio through our partnership with the Business Bunker.

In this month’s show we decided to explore the characteristic of enthusiasm with the founder and Presenter of the Business Bunker, Mr Paul Andrews. I was intrigued to understand more about what had driven Paul to found and build the Business Bunker Radio Show. In some ways, entrepreneurial venturing is in Paul’s blood. Having worked for larger corporations in London, he successfully established ‘Jobs in Kent’, an online recruitment portal for organisations aiming to locate the right talent for their organisations. Latterly Paul’s focus has changed, and it was because of this that I had many questions to ask Paul. I was fascinated by his story. How did he end up in a career on the radio? What drove Paul to focus on establishing this particular venture? Building anything in life is not a decision to take lightly; it’s a big commitment.

Defining a purpose: the burning challenge that needs addressing

I started by probing around how Paul defined his purpose, and that of the Business Bunker, and asked “what was the original reason you chose to set up the Business Bunker?” Paul revealed that he had been invited to another well-known radio show to talk about small businesses. He quickly realised this was not to be the case when he was asked question about reality TV! This got him thinking, and he recognised a need: “I realised there was nothing on radio focused on smaller businesses”.  As Paul delved deeper into this marketplace he acknowledged that what was available typically focused on the negative connotations, that running a smaller business was a burden: “I wanted smaller businesses to be seen in a positive light”. As he explored this further with media industry professionals they told him he wouldn’t be able to make the show a success, and this was like a red rag to a bull!

Paul spoke about the problem he was looking to solve:

  • It’s a small world: the need to move away from the focus on larger enterprises “big is beautiful”. The CBI only has 200,000 members, and there are over 5m SMEs [2]. Small enterprises actually do a lot of the work for larger enterprises!
  • Stay positive not political: There is a need for focus. Politics chops and changes, but the reality is smaller businesses are becoming more and more important.

And as the conversation unfolded a purpose for the Business Bunker formed:

“Providing a positive platform to promote the views and debate the challenges central to building successful smaller businesses”

Staying true to your values helps you to deliver consistent messages

As time went by I wanted to know more! My next focus was around Paul’s values. As humans, we all have values systems that guide us on how we approach the world, and live our lives. Values inform the choices and decisions we are open to and ultimately make.  So I posed the question to Paul “What’s really important to you in this venture?”  Paul reiterated staying positive, not political and beyond this the value of community “we’re stronger together”. As Paul spoke, the following values emerged:

The Business Bunker delivers a…

  • Positive, not political
  • and Collaborative, not competitive
  • Community (we are stronger together!)
  • Platform (that provides a voice for smaller businesses, their owners and employees)
  • for Promotion (debating issues at the heart of owning a running a small business)

Vision is more than imagination; it is also about planning for the future 

As we came towards the end of our time together I was keen to understand what the future held for Paul, and the Business Bunker Radio Show. To achieve this I asked Paul: “what did you set out to achieve, and how close are you to achieving it?” Paul openly admitted that he struggles to explain the show to others. He also shared his dislike for setting goals and the sense that they can be ‘limiting’. I found this really interesting. What this spoke of was the challenge for those with imagination and wisdom to translate this into a personal and organisational reality. The central tenant here is that unless one is clear on where they are going, they may not recognise when they have, or ever managed to reach the destination they were setting out to arrive at.

Enthusiasts are passionate individuals that infect each and every one of us with their desire to do things right and add value. No mountain is too high to climb, or hurdle to jump. However focus is important, as is balance.

Enthusiasm can be a blessing and a curse: achieving a balance

As we concluded, Paul and I acknowledged that there is a danger with enthusiasm. Too much can mean that leaders and managers of organisations become overly enchanted with new ideas, perhaps even excitable, reckless, and idealist. This can drive a short term and chaotic approach. In contrast, a loss of passion can lead to disengagement internally and beyond the firm, a reduction in new ideas, innovation and, in turn, lower levels of productivity. Ultimately it is down to each of us to strike a balance, and ensure that we all have clarity over our purpose, values and vision for ourselves and the organisations we lead.

Click here for further information on the collaboration between the Kent Business School and the Business Bunker Radio Show. Should you have any questions in regard to this piece of the wider work please do not hesitate to get in touch with Dr Simon Raby S.O.Raby@kent.ac.uk or Paul Andrews businessbunker@yahoo.co.uk

References

[1] definition of ‘enthusiasm’ through Oxford Dictionaries online

[2] see: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. 2014. Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions 2014, Statistical Press Release