Spiritual Business Leader (5)
Spirituality pays and it pays very well to those leaders who are adapting it. In India there is a misconception that Spirituality is for the retired people! But, there are leaders in India and across the world who are highly spiritual in their outlook and are Great Leaders as a result!
Spiritual Business Leader - Part IV
By K.Srinivas Rao
Continuing with our exploration about role of Spirituality in Business, let us explore one more Business leader who had been leading companies in a highly successful manner.
This leader is
Following is the description on his Linkedin page:
“Besides being a lifelong scout, I'm entrepreneur, board member, professor, author and philanthropist.
I live in Denmark but have extensive leadership experience from most parts of the world. I have built on average one new company every year since 1998 plus turned around companies and made them world leaders within their fields.
My book "The Second Cycle - Winning the War against Bureaucracy" was published in 2006 by Wharton School Publishing. It has been published in eight languages and its Danish version became national business book of the year 2006. Another book UNBOSS, co-authored with Jacob Bøtter in 2012, is available in English, Danish, Dutch and Chinese in 2015. My latest Danish book "Bevægelsen" is available in www.Saxo.com.
I'm still highly involved in World Scouting and sit on the World Scout Committee even after my chairmanship of the World Scout Foundation.
I'm currently chairman for and members of several companies, such as Jacob Jensen Design A/S.
Passion: Transforming mature businesses and organizations into agile, innovative and growth-oriented communities.”
The following quotations are extracted from the public knowledge-base of the “Spiritual Based Leadership Research Programme” are © 2006 by the Global Dharma Center (GDC). GDC retains the copy right to all excerpts from this knowledge-base.
Talking about his spiritual theme, Mr.Kolind’s says :
“I believe that the theme of my spirituality would be: “Love God and love your neighbour”.
Talking about Spiritual purpose, Principles and Values, he says
“I must admit that to describe what I am doing and what I have been doing, I can simply say that I am trying the best I can to live a Christian/Lutheran life. Which to me means to do something for the poor, to do something for the underprivileged, to try to do to other people what I hope that they would do to me, and all of that.”
He talks about incidents in his life when his spiritual thinking helped him get wonderful results. Most of these incidents are from the time when he headed Oticon, the hearing devices company from Denmark which is a $ 1.5 Billion company.
Talking about a situation where he had to down size the company ‘Oticon’ that he worked for, Mr.Kolind said as follows:
“We were forced to reduce staff very dramatically. On one occasion we cut away 10% of the staffovernight. I was really under pressure to determine which principles we should use to make thedecisions as to who to lay off. I took the decision, which no one understood, that we would not fireanyone over 50. Neither would we fire people who were so essential that we didn’t think we couldsurvive without them. But other than that, we would let those people go who we thought wouldhave the best chance of getting another job quickly - even though these were obviously the ones Iwould have preferred retaining.”
He was further explaining how he owned the decision and infact implemented it..
“Normally someone in my position would let the department heads talk to the people. But I didn’t do it that way. I talked to every single person that was to be laid off and told each of them that they were going to be fired and that we would work with them to get a new job the best we could. I was experiencing all their bad feelings as I was confronting myself with the doubts and fears of all of these people. To me it would have been an act of cowardice to let others do this for me. I made the decision. Then I explained it to my managers - and I explained to those being fired why I had chosen to do what we were doing”.
Talking about the reactions of people around him after the whole episode is completed, he said like this..
“But once it was done, people said “wow” and reallyrespected my decision. I maintained a number of the people who were fired as very good friendsbecause they respected that it was necessary. It turned out that we managed to work with almostall of them to get new jobs”.
Very often there are many discussions about the purpose that a company should work for. Many companies simply have Vision statements which talk about being leader in their market nationally and internationally. While talking about the purpose of Oticon, Mr.Kolind had the following to say:
“We came out of a tradition where our tag line was “Leaders in hearing technology.”
We were so oriented to hearing technology, that we forgot almost everything else. I could see thatthis was not right, that we were far more than a technology company
What inspired me was the fact that we were dealing with people who had enormous personalproblems due to lack of hearing. I was so conscious that we were making money serving thesepeople who were in such a bad condition, so I asked myself, “What is our role?” This was whatled me to see that fundamentally our job was not to align two theoretical curves, which is the wayyou normally assess whether hearing care has been successful or not. Our job was to add to thequality of life of those we served and to help them to live a decent life. So this is what led us to
phrase the essence, the vision of the company to be: “Help people with impaired hearing to liveas they wish with the hearing they have.”
This all had a tremendous effect on our employees, customers and dealers. We were not onlysaying all of this; we were living it. We went through the process where we examined every cornerof the company. I asked the question a hundred times, “Does this help people with impairedhearing to live better with the hearing they have or does it not?” We were closing departmentsand initiating projects in order to actually live this”.
Now a days many companies are offering stock options to their employees. Mr.Kolind had different take on this subject.
“I have always argued that shared ownership means that you share responsibility; you make aninvestment. So I have worked against stock options, but I have worked strongly for shares thatpeople pay for. To me there is a tremendous difference between the two. We give them adiscount in the price, that’s okay; but we are now taking joint responsibility to run the company bysharing ownership”.
Talking about the purpose of Business, Mr.Kolind says as follows:
“I have a vision, which I dare generalise, that organisations will survive, develop and prosper ifthey build a very strong culture that ties the staff together – a culture that creates a strong senseof we-ness – not only for financial reasons, but primarily for a common purpose of doingsomething important. This is a key to being successful. If you are serving a purpose and you aredoing it based on some fundamental values, and those values have to do with care and love, thenyou have great potential and you can be successful in almost anything”.
Today the success of Business Executives is talked about only in terms of the money that they earn. Mr.Kolind had the following to say:
“Personal success to me was the feeling that I was doing the right things and we were doing itright. I would not say that money is not important, but for me success is to be able to do right, tohave a good feeling of what you are doing, and to run a wonderful team of people who arededicated.
I must admit that had my work at Oticon not resulted in financial success, I would not have feltthat I was successful. So for me the financial figures are important, but I have never seen them asan end, rather as a means. I knew my work was uccessful and I also wanted to see that itworked financially.
What was also important to me was for the company to increase its reputation among its peers.We were consistently rated very high on quality, management, innovation, financial performanceand employee satisfaction every time you compared companies in any respect; that to me wasalso part of success”.
Talking about the importance of HR in his company, Mr.Kolind said:
“People believe that Oticon has outstanding human resource management and that it is a placewhere you can become a part of a great team. In fact, we didn’t have a specific human resourcemanagement department; we integrated this function throughout the organisation because we feltit was too important to leave to some specialist. It was an essential part of the company”.
Mr.Kolind worked hard to build a wonderful culture in Oticon.
“To summarise the cultural values at Oticon in a few key words, I would say…
· First of all it was to “focus on your neighbour,” where your neighbour in this respect is primarily your customer. These were the people whose hearing were impaired and were in very difficult situations. So we focused on what we could do for these people.
· Second, we created a culture in which people were responsible, not only for what they did, but also for what we all did together. So this was responsibility for the whole organisation.
· The third thing emerged clearly from the first two and how they were implemented, and that was a clear element of caring for your neighbour - your colleague.
· The last thing was creativity; the culture urged everyone to continuously question what they were doing and to find a better way and new ways to do things”.
Mr.Kolind talks about the role of higher purpose in what all he had been doing.
“I personally have no doubt that being in contact with a higher power increases the quality of one’slife in the broadest sense. This applies to everyone. I have never felt satisfaction in just makingmoney. I am only happy because I started by making a difference, whether it was for the family, orthe environment, or the hearing-impaired or whatever it was, that is what gives me satisfaction”.
To look at the success of Mr.Kolind’s approach, we have to revisit what he wrote on his linkedin page:
“I have built on average one new company every year since 1998 plus turned around companies and made them world leaders within their fields”.
Talking about the success of his approach in Oticon, he said as follows:
“When I first bought my shares in December 1990 the value of the company was 150 million kroner. When I left in May of 1998, the value of the company was 6 billion kroner”.
There is definitely something good about applying Spiritual approach in business!
Mr.Kolind continues his wonderful approach. He now champions an approach that he calls as ‘Unboss’. Please visit http://unboss.com/
Also, please listen to Mr.Kolind on this video
Spiritual Business Leader
- Harish Pant was honoured with “Distinguished Alumnus” Award by IEI, Member Advisory Council All India Management Association (AIMA) Bangalore, Lifetime member of Aeronautical Society of India, a Fellow of Institution of Engineers, Recipient of Immai Operational Excellence Award and Award for Industrial Development by All India Achievers Foundation and Indian Economic Development and Research Association. An aspiring author!
- Corporate Member of various International and National Chamber of Commerce, Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies & Industries and permanent Invitee to the Executive Board of Indian Society for Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering.
- A Mechanical Engineer with multi faceted global exposure and experience of 30 years across Steel, Automotive, Aerospace and Engineering sectors.
- Presently working with Hampson Industries Private Limited as Managing Director with responsibility for Automotive, General Engineering and Aerospace businesses.
- Have worked with HAL, MarutiUdyog Ltd and Jindal Group
Harish is deeply spiritual. He agreed to share his views on spirituality and the effects it can have in business with The Indian Manufacturing .com.
The Indian Manufacturing .com (TIM) : What is your definition of being spiritual ?
Harish Pant :Leadership is a huge responsibility and with UVCA world the challenges become stiffers, changes faster and choices harder and charaters and capabilities more subtle. In the granualities of this churning, a progressive leader will come face to face in the vallies and peaks of inetractive world when he finds himself alone with the spirit. This sipirit makes some spritual, some a monk, some a selfless leader, some mad/lunatic and some maniac for the pleasure, profit, position and power..
A time comes in a leaders life where he himself becomes a constraint, a limiting factor. He needs to cross over that hurdle, beyond physical, objective, emotional and intituitive. This zone to me is spiritual. Many leaders get to this zone through struggle and few get it from a pure exloration and choice as well.
TIM :Is there any relationship between Religion and Spirituality?
Harish :Religion is symbolic….saguna, spirituality is objective. Reliogion may deifne causal relationship pointing to a truth whereas spiritual is the truth.
TIM :What are the spiritual concepts that inspire you?
Harish:All concepts points to one truth but with varying emphasis. From a tat twam asi (you are that) proclamation and itti itti niyati niyati (it is this, it is not); to some emphasizing the religious process; to some objectively defining causal relationship and everything connected in the world; some emphasing Maya and Mithya (the illusionary world). Some go the yoga ways and some to atma and parmatma while some eluditating Purusha. Concepts are not important, living the truth is.
TIM:How can a Business leader use spirituality in business?
Harish: Spirituality can not be used! It has to be lived in the depth and meaning of life.
TIM :Today there is a lot of focus on short term results in business and this is creating a lot of stress to the people involved. How can spirituality help in this regard?
Harish: Spirituality is not a tool or skill. Its also not emotional maturity and yogic powers.
In ancient times spirituality was transcended directly from Guru to Desciples at a very young age. It was not a quick pill for a suicidal avoidance or as a means of stress releive!
Yes, a spritual person has many qualities and abilitieshas and may live a stress free life.
You get what you ask for in life. Chose your life wisely!
TIM :Give us examples of instance when you used spiritual approach in business.
Harish: Spirituality helps in you being your original self and that may help you and others in business.
TIM :How do you think a company can transform its’ business using spiritual concepts?
Harish:We see spiritual organizations becoming materialistic! The opium of spirituality and sloganeering for the masses certainly has some calming effect but its all but not spiritual! You can not cover ever unsatiating greed by the finest of clothes!!
However well intentioned, even many NGO’s do ot have spirituality as their base. Act of kindness is not spiritual! A spritual person will certainly be kind!!
TIM: How can spirituality contribute for better results!
Harish: Before one can realize the spiritual dimensions, the person would have experinced the subtle energy and witnessed emotional play. His very active reflections would have also observed the mind games and various perceptions.
Reality of a physical world does not change for a spiritual person but spiritual person understands the impermanance and relative signifcamce of all the events happenign in life.
If the leader and owners are spiritually aligned, they do not waste their time in many negative exploitative mind games but with a service attitude work for other stackholders. Spirituality does not give life comfort or convenience.
If Kaizen removes MUDA, MURA, MURI for the physical world then spirituality removes all the subtle waste and negative energy…..the left over is all value add wherein every act has a purpose and benfit for others as the self has just become spirit… has become selfless!
Life of spirituality is tough! Witness in you will not leave any waste…even the most subtle.
Spiritual Business Leader - Part III
By K.Srinivas Rao
Let us continue our exploration of the effect of Spirituality in Business. Leaders who are spiritual are able to work differently, they are able to achieve big results with lesser effort. They are having a wonderful effect on their surroundings. There are many such leaders across the world. Let us explore two more.
The quotations are extracted from the public knowledge-base of the “Spiritual Based Leadership Research Programme” are © 2006 by the Global Dharma Center (GDC). GDC retains the copy right to all excerpts from this knowledge-base.
Philip Budin, USA
Philip Budin is the CEO of Budco Realty, New York. He is also a Meditation teacher and a Life coach.
The spiritual theme of Philip Budin is ‘equanimity’. He seeks equanimity in everything that he does. At the age of 30 Philip started his spiritual journey. He did not work for the next 10 years. But, he again went back to work at the age of 40 at the instance of his guru.
Philip says “Overall, the spirituality helps me in all situation of life. I don’t apply it towards business, I apply it towards myself”.
He says “In business, I do the best I can do to accomplish what I want to accomplish, and the results are in God’s hands and not mine. Not being attached to the results is a very freeing experience and a major part of my spiritual teaching – which is equanimity and being in the moment, each and every moment as it occurs. If you are attached to the result, you are living in the future based upon some expectation from the past. Equanimity puts you right in the moment, every moment”.
Philip uses the spiritual approach in conducting himself in the business. He quotes a few examples.
When he was firing an employee who did not keep with the values of his organization, he did not lose his temper. He maintained his equanimity.
“I brought the young man in and I fired him, very calmly, with love and with peace. I knew he had to be let go. Did I feel bad for him? Yes in one way, and no in another. I spoke to him and told him that we all have to be responsible for our actions now or at some point in the future. So I guess in a way he was lucky that this was happening to him now and not at some point in the future, when he might not know what it was happening for. He apologised and said it wouldn’t happen again; however, within our company he could no longer have been trusted. Because he was interested in spirituality, we had a small spiritual talk before he left. We talked about right action, right state of mind, consciousness, and being clear about our goals. I have had some brief contact with him since then; however, my choice is not to associate with him in the future”.
Philip maintained his toughness and clarity of mind about the issue. At the same time he focused upon making the young man realize his mistake rather than losing his cool over him.
Philip used spirituality to open doors in business. He tried to connect spiritually with the other person rather than have the usual round of drinks with the client as is common in business. It worked for him very well.
Philip says “spirituality was the easiest way to open the door to do business together. In the olden days the easiest way to open the door was to go out drinking with someone, but I don’t do that anymore”.
Philip realized the importance of spirituality and gained control on his own mind. He tries to influence others around him in a positive manner.
He says “When someone comes to me, meditation is the primary path that I recommend to them. The meditation I teach to others is to follow their breath and see how long they can do that before a thought comes in. As soon as they realise they can’t do this for more than 2 or 3 seconds, they become quite surprised and upset. They become especially upset when I ask them, “If you are not controlling your mind, then who is?” It’s a great question and is one that really blew me away. When I tried to focus on something years ago, I couldn’t do it. That’s when I asked, “If I’m not controlling my mind, then who the heck is?” That was a scary thought, at least to me. So when I am talking to people who are running companies and are in high profile positions and ask them this question, it makes them crazy. Some of them will run away and some of them will really work on it. Either way it is okay with me”.
Philip is a shining example of using spirituality and becoming a better business man!
Francisco Roberto Canada, Argentina
Francisco Roberto Canada is a Director and Partner of Errepar S.A, a major publishing firm in Argentina.
Francisco says “To me spirituality is the search for true happiness”. His spiritual theme is “Loving god”.
Francisco’s definition of purpose of business is as follows. “…Our goal is to make people aware of their inner potentials, to help bring out these potentials, and to always strive for excellence. Excellence is the way god made the world. I also think that this should be the purpose of the Business in general”.
Francisco’s views on success in business are as follows. “From my spiritual point of view, success goes beyond success on the physical plane…..though being profitable is necessary for our development, success for companies is not simply the success in the traditional finance sense, but it is tied to the principles of selfless service”.
Francisco has a unique way of developing good organizational culture. “The concept we work with is to be responsible, to perform right action, to do what has to be done in the weekly meetings, we replace the word dharma with responsibility: Responsibility for the whole company. Responsibility for the areas the people work in, responsibility in the relationship between the manager and his employees, responsibility in the relationships among the employees families, and the responsibility of all of us for ourselves”.
Francisco quotes an example of how he applied the spiritual values in to the actual way of working in the business.
“We hold weekly meetings with the Sales managers, product managers, systems managers, and all the staff. We talk about how to apply the teachings and principles of Spiritual leadership, both at work and in our daily life. In these meetings we focus on principles based on the human values of truth, right action, love, peace and non-violence – not on religion. We use examples from all religions, but each person has his own spiritual way. The employees accept this wonderful way”.
Francisco is using this method to ensure the organization culture continues to be what it was when the company was small and they could reach all employees directly.
“When we the three owners worked directly with everybody, there was a certain family spirit in the company. When we began growing as a business and then changed the organisational structure by installing general managers for each of the companies, the spirit of overall organisation suffered. People who stayed with us through all the 25 years tell us that they feel that with these weekly meetings , which we began three months ago, the whole organisation , all four companies, are going to revive the old family spirit”.
The spiritual ways of these two leaders is truly inspiring. By focusing on the larger purpose and taking a holistic view of things, they are able to deliver a wonderful performance in the business.
I would like to start this second article in the series of ‘Spiritual Business Leader’ by revisiting the definition of the word ‘Spiritual’. Web dictionary defines Spiritual as “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”. To put it simply, it is relating to the higher purpose of Business than just the profits. It does not mean we should forego the profit motive in the Business. We can aim at a higher goal by which we definitely achieve our short term goal which is the Profitability. But, go on to achieve something higher beyond.
I would like to continue our exploration of this higher purpose in business. There are several Business men/ women who are focused on the higher purpose in business and are highly successful. I would like to borrow couple of examples from the public knowledge-base of the “Spiritual Based Leadership Research Programme” © 2006 by the Global Dharma Center (GDC). GDC retains the copy right to all excerpts from this knowledge-base.
Ricardo Levy, Co-founder and CEO of CatalyticaInc, USA
Ricardo was born in Ecuador and migrated to USA to study at Stanford University. He studied Chemical Engineering. He worked at Exxon and worked in their Corporate research laboratory. He established CatalyticaInc in 1974 along with a partner. Catalytica specialises in research and development for chemical, pharmaceutical and energy industries. They formed two subsidiary companies in Pharma and Energy sectors to whom they were providing their services. By late 90’s the Pharma company became major outsourcing supplier to the drug industry. They had three manufacturing plants and 1600 employees throughout USA. They had revenues of about 500 million $. The pharma business was later sold off to another company. They had the energy company with them. This company was based on a catalyst which they invented in the late 80’s that allowed fuel to be burned without pollution.
Ricardo defines spirituality as :the deep inner search for a fuller personal integration with a transcendent greater than our narrow self. He looks at it as a deep connection with a force greater than himself.
According to Ricardo the purpose of Catalytica (the company he co-founded) is to create value for society. Ricardo says :Unless we have a clear sense that what we are doing has a positive societal purpose and our actions will make the world a better place, it is very difficult to achieve wholeness.
While expressing his views about financial goals of a company, Ricardo says: Financial goals to me are an outcome, not a goal. Yes, they are certainly important and if you do run out of money, then your company can not survive.
Ricardo created a Pharma company which had a sales of about $ 500 Million. So, here is a man who did not work for financial goals alone. But, achieved excellent financial results!!
Ricardo speaks about his experience of using spirituality to address a big and complex problem that he faced in the business.
When we sold the pharmaceutical company it involved the dismemberment of the business that we had built over 27 years… there were many areas to think through. It helped me throughout this period to be able to live in the unknown: to let the problem be with me and just rest there. I also followed the Jesuit practice of discernment, which is learning to quiet my mind and get in to deeper inner self. And from that place to listen to the voice of god and allow my inner spirit connected to god to give me the signals of my path.
I wrestled for weeks with this sale decision. I finally reached the point where I really felt that selling the pharma subsidiary was the right thing to do. The practical result is that once I got to the point where I had reached this internal compass marker, the ability to harness the forces around me to get all of this done was enhanced ten fold. This is actually hard to describe, but the energy of my conviction and deep sense of rightness allowed me to gather these forces and go forward, Mahatma Gandhi is such a beautiful example of this spiritual multiplier effect.
Ricardo’s spiritual values and his conviction carried the day for his company.
Nilofer Merchant, Innovation expert, USA (The Jane bond of Innovation.. as her linked in profile claims)
Her linked in profile says: 18 billion dollars. Nilofer Merchant has launched more than 100 products that netted this astounding amount. It’s this kind of collaborative leadership and business models – the type that results in innovation, and growth - that she now shares.
She has gone from being an administrative assistant, to division leader, to CEO to board member of a NASDAQ-traded company along her 25-year career, gathering monikers such as the "Jane Bond of Innovation" along the way for her ability to guide organizations through impossible odds.
Specifically, she’s worked for major Fortune 500 companies like Apple and Autodesk, and startups in the early days of the Web (Golive/ later bought by Adobe). Logitech, Symantec, HP, Yahoo, VMWare, and many others have turned to her guidance on new product strategies, enter new markets, defend against competitors, and optimize revenues. And, Merchant is one of the few people who can say they’ve fought a competitive battle against Microsoft and won, for Symantec’s Anti-Virus $2.1B annual business.
According to Nilofer, spirituality is : Living fully the glory of god is being fully alive. To me this means using your gifts to the fullest, working in a position that is using all of you.
Nilofer believes in helping people to manifest the gifts within. She explains as follows:
When I was managing people while leading in my corporate positions, I always wanted to find a way to use their gifts well… I would ask them what they felt their natural gifts were, such as organising or working with teams. I tried to help discover what their base strengths were. I would then tailor their jobs so that they could use these skills and strengths optimally. … I feel that the greatest thing a leader can do is to help people manifest their gifts fully…I never wanted to spend any energy trying to get a person to do something that they did not want to do.
This has been an important part of my own spiritual development, and I have tried to pass that on as a leader.
Niloferstates the purpose of Business as: Contributing productively to the greater community, which includes the local, state, national and international sphere, serving others, using the skills and gifts god has given us all and learning and growing in to a more conscious person so that we might fully be alive.
Quite a different way to look at business compared to the narrow ways in which many business men may look at.
Nilofer says the following words regarding the creation of right type of organizational culture: What I do want for all people, whether they work specifically in my organisation or not, is to empower them to be fully engaged, fully alive and use all of the gifts they have. For me, this means having fun, laughing, being creative, having lots of great ideas and framing them in a way to share with others. This to me is experiencing a vibrant life. What I most aspire to is to help others feel passionately about their life.
Nilofer led the way in terms of walking the talk. She gives the example of a person in her company who was different: One time, we were working on a large project, and one person spent all of his time during the entire project telling everyone why it was going to fail. He was the biggest nay-sayer I had ever met in my life. But I loved him dearly and recognised that this was his way of expressing his fears and that he genuinely wanted to be helpful. I feel that fears are gifts and that they can be helpful if used properly. Because I knew he could not be productive until he felt he had really been heard. I would typically spend the first minutes of any meeting and let him share his fears. So the group really learned a lot during this process and learned better how to accept him.
The path that these two leaders are following is not the same as everyone does. In today’s Quarter to Quarter business existence where everyone is worried only about the quarterly results, the spiritual approach can be beneficial to the people involved and also deliver the quarterly results that we all seek. Ricardo Levy and NiloferMerchant two of the successful people in business are being spiritual and reaping the benefit of that approach. It is time that more people try out this approach.
Today’s Business world is steeped with stress and anxiety. This is due to the fact that the Companies are chasing short term results and the people involved in the business are adapting ‘any means’ to get those results. The focus on Annual results has shifted to Quarterly results. Within the companies, the focus is there on monthly ,weekly and daily results ! Added to this the Economic situation is not helping the whole business climate. The top lines are not growing and bottom lines are shrinking. There is pressure to reduce cost. Many times this is read as downsizing the people. The Employees do not have as many job opportunities as they used to have. There are many companies who have not given a raise to the Employees for second year in row !
While we may want to change all this, it may not be possible! The people involved in the Business will have to put up with the change and they will have to grow their companies in a systematic manner.
While there can be help from different Business models, Change programs and so on, there needs to be a support system for the Individual involved in the Business. A Support system which helps him/her to change what he/she can and endure the rest.
Today Spirituality in business is gaining ground across the world. What do we mean by Spiritual?
Web dictionary defines Spiritual as “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things”. To put it simply, it is relating to the higher purpose of Business than just the profits. It does not mean we should forego the profit motive in the Business. We can aim at a higher goal by which we definitely achieve our short term goal which is the Profitability. But, go on to achieve something higher beyond.
Let us take an example of Toyota.
Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching the lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving.
Through our commitment to quality, constant innovation and respect to the planet, we aim to exceed expectations and be rewarded with a smile.
We will meet our challenging goals by engaging the talent and passion of people , who believe there is always a better way.
Toyota truly lives up to this Vision statement. It spends about 5% of its turnover on new technologies, it shaped its Systems based on the tenet of ‘Respect to people’.
This is one good example at a company level. There can be more good examples!
There are several people in Business across the world who are Spiritual and achieving stunning results!
Let us look at some of those examples.
Stephen Covey is the author of the best seller ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ and many other books. He is the Vice Chairman of Franklin Covey, a Global professional services firm based in the USA.
Stephen Covey explains about Spirituality as three things. 01. You are dealing with the whole person. That includes the person’s spirit or soul. 02. You are dealing with those principles which are timeless and universal 03. You are dealing with peace of conscience. Obeying or following your conscience , means that you are true to that which you have internalised as being right and this gives you tremendous tranquillity and courage.
Stephen gives the following example for demonstrating how spirituality can help in Business.
“I was working with a large college in Ontario, Canada. They really had a terrible culture; it was characterised by turfism and fighting and interdepartmental resistances, with everyone looking out for themselves, protecting their own situation, silo thinking, and all that kind of stuff. I worked with them over a period of an year to develop a mission statement that would be supra-ordinate. By this I mean larger than one’s self , larger than one’s own institution. It took them about two years before there was broad agreement, and eventually what happened was that they developed a mission statement to become the yardstick educational institution for all of the state of Ontario – the institution others could measure themselves against. When they really brought into that intention to leave a legacy, the littleness of their souls completely submerged and the magnanimity of soul exploded inside them.
I have these eye-opening experiences almost on a daily basis, both in my own leadership work at Franklin Covey and in my work helping leaders of other organizations.”
Stephen Covey’s views on the purpose of Business are as follows:
“Spiritual based leaders respect others and are guided by the fundamental ethic; service to others comes before serving one’s self. From an existential perspective, the raison d’etre of organisations is to serve human needs. Really, there is no other reason for their existence. Individuals and organisations grow when they give themselves to others. Relationships improve when there is a focus on serving the other, be it at the level of the individual, the family, the organisation, the community, the society, or all of humanity. The phrase so eloquently developed by Greenleaf sums this up : Servant Leadership. (Robert Greenleaf was former Director of Management Research at the American Telecommunications company AT&T. who developed the concept of servant-leadership.)
In short: The purpose of business organisations is to serve human needs. Period!”
Stephen defines the success of organizations as :
“There are two kinds of success. Primary success has to do with strength of character and contribution to others. Secondary success has to do with formal authority and with being rich, famous, popular and positioned. So moral authority, which is the only real basis on which formal authority can ever work over time and be sustainable, is primary success.”
John R. Behner, El Salvador
John was the Country Manager of Nabisco in El Salvador till about 2005. He worked for about 40 years before he retired.
John defines spirituality as ‘the application of the human values – truth, right conduct, peace, love and non-violence- In your way of doing things. But it’s also more than that. It’s trying to see God in everyone and trying to interact with everyone on a very loving basis, seeing everything as being perfect, and not pointing your finger at anyone or anything. Being spiritual is being humble and trying to help’.
His spiritual theme is ‘Realising god by serving others’.
John gives an example of how the spiritual dimension helped him bond much better with his customers.
“In 1986, there was a big earthquake in San Salvador, so we got a little experience in dealing with a crisis.
One of the first things we saw was that all the super markets, which were our biggest clients, were affected; all their merchandise was all over the floor. They had a tremendous job of trying to clean what was saveable and to throw out what was broken and may be take some kind of inventory of it. We also say that our production lines were useless, because of the supermarkets could not put our products on their shelves, what good was it to produce it ? So we shut down our production lines and sent the salesmen to all the major supermarkets. They offered them a team of our production people to help them clean up. We did this very successfully, and we were the only company that did it. All the super markets were happy to get this kind of service. Which did not cost them anything. It only took about a week of very concentrated effort. It got them on their feet faster, and so we could start selling faster.
We took stock of our employees, and we had nine employees who had lost their homes. Since we had shut down the production, our maintenance department wasn’t doing anything. So we asked these guys to go and rebuild the homes of these nine employees on a temporary basis. In an earthquake, what happens is that the floor is still there, but the roof and the walls may have fallen down. Temporary structures were put up in the nine homes, and the employees were grateful. El Salvador gets earthquakes periodically. In 1994 when we had another earthquake, we were all prepared, because we had already gone through the big one in 1986.”
John explains the purpose of Business as follows:
“The purpose of a business is to make other people happy, especially your clients and your employees”.
John explains the measure of success of business as “Having good relationship with the employees and customers and they acknowledging it”.
It is very clear that Spiritual outlook in business can be very profitable too!
I will come back with more examples in the next edition.