The Price of Everything, The Value of Nothing


The Price of Everything, The Value of Nothing

As a business coach, I often come across executive leaders who see the world in terms of “price,” but not necessarily in terms of value. In fact, at VIM Executive Coaching we are very interested in how our clients (especially the new ones) see the world around them.

I well remember an executive who boasted that he invested in a restored, 1930s classic car that he was planning on driving back and forth to the office, just to gain a bit of attention to himself. Not ever being one to judge, I conveyed that I was pretty impressed. He volunteered the amount he paid for the behemoth and I must admit it stopped me in my tracks for a few seconds. Naturally, I asked him how it rode and he answered:

“It’s hard to steer, not easy to brake, always needs tune-ups and has a suspension that feels as though you’re driving over stairs!”

What is gained?
The conversation is illustrative of how many executives and entrepreneurs think in terms of leadership. Who or what do we value in our workplaces, and who or what do we view solely in terms of what it costs us? They are obviously different. 

For example, we might have a loyal, ethical, hardworking employee who strives to help the company by finding ways to be more efficient and to save the company money. The employee may not be flashy, and he may not be fresh and new, but he really cares. One day he comes up with a new product distribution idea that could save the organization a significant amount of money. He writes it up, submits it to higher management, but the idea is tabled. The EVP then turns around and hires a consultant to look into making product distribution more profitable. The consultant’s firm does an in-depth study that is more expensive and less efficient than the employee’s idea. They institute that idea.

Along a similar line, two managers come before an executive. They are good employees but sharply differ on an issue. One manager has a resume reflective of a hard worker who came up through the ranks, put herself through business school and scrambled for everything she ever got. The other employee is the product of a prestigious university. She went through school on a scholarship and she graduated with honors. In the meeting, without being fully cognizant of it, the executive favors the manager who went to the high-powered school. Why? The better school, in the executive’s mind, must create “better thinkers.” In this case, there is a bias based on price and in resolving the differences the executive reacts with bias rather than a sense of authenticity.

What do we value?
My point here is that when an entrepreneur or executive leader favors the external or peripheral issues the over the authentic, it is virtually impossible to make a fully informed decision. The value of an employee, idea, or situation is far more important than its price tag. In the first example above, because one idea originated from a high-powered consultancy it was favored. In the second example, because one employee came from a more prestigious background she was deemed “smarter.”

In both cases, the decision makers needed to apply awareness and mindfulness to what was being evaluated or discussed or proposed.

What we should often value most is the opportunity to make a responsive decision based on the merits of the situation. Without mindfulness, it is so very easy to be reactive and unfortunately, biased in decision making.

The examples I gave are theoretical only to a point. At VIM Executive Coaching, we have seen many similar decisions based on price and not value. Generally speaking, those types of decisions are regretted at some point down the line.

Want to learn more about VIM Executive Coaching and our dynamic, highly effective coaching programs for executives and entrepreneurs? We would be happy to offer you a FREE, NO OBLIGATION coaching consultation! Please click on the link below.

Bruce Wolk