I like this entrepreneurial metaphor a lot. It comes with years of experience, I guess, as I really believe there’s something of a larger harmony present with everything you do, including business. The way I perceive it is through the wonder that is the human body.
In fact, the human body is a perfect representation of a company. If you stop and think about it for a second, both are essentially a sum of the parts working together that you can either work on and make better or neglect and run it into the ground. Both have a lot of different elements with some being more important than others. Those that stand out are the brain and heart.
The X factor
In company terms, the brain is the CEO. It thinks all the time and is strategically positioned to operate all of the other systems that work in synergy. On the other hand, the heart is something that people don’t appreciate enough. Most companies have some combination of brain, hands, legs, liver, and such but they’re missing the heart. Maybe it’s because it’s a really boring organ – all it does is pulses at a steady pace – not too fast and not too slow.
If there is a ‘heart’ person in an organization, you can bet he/she is almost universally underappreciated for what they bring to the table. This is the person that cares so much that even the smallest details never go under the radar. Whether we are talking about bringing coffee in the morning, making sure people attend a meeting, taking care of invoices or a myriad of other things, this person is the linchpin between everything and everyone. Furthermore, he/she achieves this through attentiveness and genuine concern, not by pursuing own incentives or better yet, giving orders and bossing around (that would largely constitute my job).
That person is a hard worker that comes every day and cares about how things work down to a T. Why do I say the company’s heart is always unappreciated? Because I see a lot of businesses trying to build around very talented people that ultimately aren’t what they need. A great liver is still just a liver – it has one specific function and that’s it. The brain is amazing, unbelievable, and far more impressive than the heart. But when you go to sleep at night, you’re expecting the brain to be brilliant in the morning. You can afford it the occasional day off.
Not so much for the heart. You need it to operate and maintain focus every day. That’s your X factor: the person that’s not flashy but just does what’s needed to keep the flow going. Without that person, you’re going to fail, just like your body will shut down if the heart stops for a minute or doesn’t function well.
The value of the heart is immeasurable
To be on the safe side: in no way am I diminishing the other roles. You need the brain to tell your legs where to go or your arms what to reach for. You can’t live without it functioning properly. In the same regard, you need your legs to take you places and so on and so forth. But realistically speaking – you can do without most of these “secondary” organs, especially in the context of business.
At the first mention of a team, the vast majority immediately thinks of the upper echelons: CEO, CFO, UFO, and all the other elite. But here’s the thing: all of these can be implanted in the business. You can replace the CEO. You can replace the CFO but you can’t change a person that knows how a business operates on the tiniest of levels. You can but you’d be shooting yourself in the foot. Its functionality is a lot more important to make a business tick than the head honcho. It keeps the structure, the idea of a company alive.
The heart “just” does what it does, and it feeds the rest of the organs to do what they do and keep the show going. It’s there to maintain the favorable status quo but it’s not brilliant, it doesn’t show off, and it isn’t pretty. In essence, it’s the quiet leader that maintains engagement and culture.
When you start to build a team, you have to think about the heart if you want to succeed, and then build the whole flashiness around it. You can do cardio and amp up your arms and legs, but without that hardworking person right smack in the middle of it, I honestly think you can’t make it. I firmly believe that if you have a heart surrounded by a mediocre brain, a so-so liver, and lousy lungs, you still have a better chance of success than being without a healthy heart.
The center of everything
The great thing about the proverbial heart of the company is that the people feel it. This blood flow regulator is a non-changing person (if looking for traditional definitions I would say in most organizations the COO would be the closest thing to a default ‘heart’ role), and usually, you’re stuck with them for life for reasons mentioned above.
At M51, this role is reserved for Gali. She doesn’t do business development, she doesn’t come up with ideas, but at the end of the day, she’s something I like to call integrating – everybody can continue doing what they’re doing thanks to her. Amidst all the organized chaos and flashiness that happens day in and day out in our office, she’s the one that keeps things glued together and acts as an anchor. She’s always there, having other people’s back. Now that I think about it, the ‘Head Conductor’ title we gave her is 1000% spot on.
So that would be the importance of the heart in the business context. You need it working in unison with the brain (and at maximum capacity at that, if possible) to have a healthy body ready for the marathon that is the entrepreneurial world. In the race for achieving the level of success you are striving for, it’s your only way to the finish line – no detours.