In a powerful and insightful keynote address, Peter Finn, CEO & Founding Partner of FINN Partners, delved into the realm of “Values-Driven Leadership Fuels Growth & Reputation: 7 Golden Rules.” With a strong belief in the transformative power of values and ethics, Peter Finn challenged conventional wisdom and highlighted the significance of placing purpose and integrity at the heart of business. Here’s a closer look at his illuminating keynote and the seven golden rules that drive value-driven leadership.
Setting the Stage
Peter Finn commenced his Keynote Address by referencing compelling quotes that have shaped business philosophies over the years. These quotes, though not initially born in a business context, have permeated the corporate world, influencing leadership and decision-making. A few of these quotes include:
“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing!” This quote, often attributed to UCLA Bruins Football Coach Henry Russell “Red” Sanders, has been employed to underscore the ruthless pursuit of victory, no matter the means.
“The end justifies the means.” This paraphrase of Niccolò Machiavelli, an Italian diplomat, suggests that achieving a morally significant goal justifies any method employed to attain it.
“Nice guys finish last.” This phrase, condensed from a comment by baseball manager Leo Durocher, is used to assert that being kind and considerate ultimately leads to failure in competitive environments.
Peter Finn used these quotes to challenge conventional business wisdom and prompt critical reflection. Rather than adhering to these seemingly ruthless philosophies, he believes in a different approach—one founded on values, integrity, and a commitment to play nice in the business arena.
The Birth of FINN Partners: A Different Kind of Firm
Before delving into the seven golden rules, Peter Finn shed light on the founding vision of FINN Partners. The agency was conceived with the intention of creating a distinctive firm that combined world-class capabilities with the values of collaboration and ethics. It aspired to be a best-place-to-work agency, combining excellence with a heart and conscience, becoming a preferred partner for major clients worldwide.
Peter Finn proudly emphasized the core value at the heart of FINN Partners: “Work hard, play nice.” This value is a foundational pillar in the agency’s culture and is instilled in every new employee through a welcome packet.
In a world where many believe that business is a contact sport and knocking down competitors is the path to success, Peter Finn stands firm in his rejection of this philosophy. He shared an anecdote about a competitor with a reputation for ruthlessness and emphasized his strong disagreement with this approach. The mantra that guided him when launching FINN Partners was very clear: “Work hard and play nice.”
The Vision of David Finn: Business as a Force for Good
Peter Finn attributed his inspiration for founding FINN Partners to his father, David Finn, who believed in the role of business as a force for good in society. This vision, expressed by David Finn in his words, underscores the capacity of corporations to contribute to the betterment of humanity. It encourages leaders to transform their businesses into vital public institutions dedicated to the welfare of their communities. It inspired him too, when he founded FINN Partners many years ago.
“Of this I am sure: if the corporate oligarch does not, in the years ahead, create a new sense of purpose in his business, he will not be able to commit the full resources of his organization to the betterment of man. If, on the other hand, he realizes the promise shown by a few pioneers, he will succeed one day in transforming the corporation into a vital public institution worthy of the dedicated efforts of the nation’s ablest citizens. No leader of men could ask for a greater opportunity.” David Finn, (excerpt from The Corporate Oligarch)
The Success Story of FINN Partners: Purpose Fuels Growth
Peter Finn proudly presented the remarkable journey of FINN Partners by the numbers. In 12 years, the agency has expanded to 33 offices worldwide, with 1,400 employees, and is poised to surpass $200 million in fees. He emphasized that the agency’s purpose has been the driving force behind this phenomenal growth. By grounding their business model in core values and ethics, FINN Partners has not only attracted top clients and talent but has also elevated its reputation, leading to widespread industry recognition and success.
The Seven Golden Rules of Value-Driven Leadership
Peter Finn’s keynote introduced the seven golden rules that shape value-driven leadership and, in turn, influence a company’s growth and reputation:
Purpose is Personal: Peter Finn believes that values are deeply personal and that one’s core values guide every step taken in their journey. These values are not mere slogans; they are the beliefs that reside at the core of an individual. They serve as an unwavering beacon of light and clarity in the world of business. “Purpose-washing” is rampant, and we suffer from a crisis of trust in our industry, he shared.
Talk Is Cheap; Actions Speak Louder: In an age of “purpose-washing,” where empty words are abundant, genuine purpose is established by translating words into action. Peter Finn emphasized that actions are the most potent way to prove one’s commitment to a meaningful purpose.
The Power of ‘No’: Embracing independence allows businesses to be discerning about the clients they choose to work with. Core values should guide business decisions, including those involving potential partnerships.
Taking a Stand in the Crossfires of Culture Wars: Silence is no longer an option in today’s world. Companies are expected to take a stand on important social issues, and Peter Finn encouraged business leaders to do so courageously.
Values as a Calm in the Storm: In a world filled with complex societal issues, core values serve as a North Star, providing clarity and direction amid the chaos. Values guide every action and decision.
Scaling a Community Through Shared Values: FINN Partners, with 33 offices and 1,400 employees worldwide, has used its values as the glue binding its global community together. This shared commitment to values has fueled the agency’s exceptional growth.
Doing Good Is Good for Business: Finally, Peter Finn reinforced the idea that purpose drives tangible business growth. It’s not just about being kind or making a positive impact on the world. Purpose drives tangible business growth, growing revenues and attracting top clients and talent. ‘Purposeful’ companies outperform the stock market by 42per cent.
In a Fireside Chat with Shipra Singh of GE HealthCare, she pointed out that more companies are looking at India and India is the flavour of the season, which may last a century!
Is the power of ‘No’ equally empowering as ‘Yes’? For communications, you do have a responsibility to advise your clients and leaders to do the right thing. “Don’t just say you should be willing to take a stance”. On a confident note he explained – “I am a strong believer that PR and Marketing need to be integrated”.
Has Communications secured a seat in the decision-making table? “I think there’s no question that Communications is much closer to the C-Suite than before.”
About new trends, he insisted that AI will replace some jobs. We all need to use all tech tools, and need to learn them thoroughly and quickly.
He signed off with reflecting on the transformation in India, after 50 years, which is amazing. “I am waiting to see what India will be 50 years from now!”
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