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Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

The Spiritual Business Leader

Written by  Srinivas Rao Kruttiventi
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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.


Read 3279 times Last modified on Friday, 20 June 2014 20:07

1 comment

  • Comment Link Hari S Nair Wednesday, 09 July 2014 14:51 posted by Hari S Nair

    Dear Sir,

    A good read.
    The essence of the article can be summed up in the two sentences used in the article
    1) The purpose of a business is to make other people happy, especially your clients and your employees
    2) The purpose of business organisations is to serve human needs.

    This iterates the reason why an organization needs to be viewed as pro employee and not just pro employment and also on the theory that human asset is the most valuable asset for a company since they just cannot be replicated.


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