The Conscious Business Summit: 5 Lessons

The Conscious Business Summit: 5 Lessons

On Wednesday we attended the Conscious Capitalism Business Summit, held in Sydney, where we were lucky enough to hear Patagonia, Charlie Arnott, LinkedIN and author of the Conscious Capitalism bible, Firms of Endearment, Raj Sisodia talk.
Patagonia's Jill Dumain

Patagonia’s Jill Dumain

We’re big fans of Conscious Capitalism, why? Because successful business is more than making a profit.
As a business we’re all about understanding people and conscious capitalism is a movement to elevate humanity in business through a focus on higher purpose (ie. not just making a buck), conscious leadership, stakeholder orientation (aligning all stakeholders so that what is good for one is good for all…not just good for the shareholder) and finally conscious culture.
We believe that Conscious Capitalism is the future…to quote Sisodia:
“Business is one of the most important things humans do – we need to treat it as such”
So, here are our top 5 take-outs from the conference
1. Leadership is about serving not being served
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Most often – in MBA programs and business books – we’re taught that leadership is about mastery of others. The mythical, ultimate leader is someone whom others serve…the truth is more like the opposite.
As Simon Sinek points out in his book ‘Leaders Eat Last’ – ‘ In the military they give medals to this who are willing got sacrifice themselves so that others may gain; in business we give bonuses to those who are willing to sacrifice others so that they may gain’
Raj Sisodia summarised this as having a ‘serving ego not a deserving ego’; he then went on to describe what makes a great ‘conscious leader’ using the anagram S.E.L.F.L.E.S.S as you can see in the photo below.
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He was quick to point out a conscious leader is not a masculine leader (as we’ve asked a lot of women in leadership in the past), but rather blending masculine and feminine characteristics together.
2. Everyone is someone’s precious child
Conventional business wisdom sees people as assets to serve other people. In new model of business you have to care, inspire and celebrate people. Sisodia, used the example from a business that had undergone massive transformation on the back of the founder seeing his friend ‘give away’ his daughter to be married. A moment of tenderness between people – a level of compassion that is rarely seen in business. Sisodia points out ‘everyone is family – you are not your business function you are a human being’.
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3. Caring is contagious
Crazy stat – it’s American but you get the idea…88% of Americans don’t think they’re treated like humans at work.
Do you know what that means – around 130 million people go home at the end of work and feel stressed or unfilled…you know where that stress goes..onto their families. How you feel about work affects other areas of your life. Another stat – according to Harvard Business Review 96% of leaders feel or have felt burnt out.
The point behind all these stats the way you treat employees affects how they treat others – instore, their families, and communities. Work sets the emotional tone for our lives. In essence, businesses create value but also destroy other kinds of value – which aren’t just captured in shareholder value…but have HUGE impact.
4. Vulnerability is an ability not a liability
No one likes to feel vulnerable…but vulnerable at work is a ‘no,no’. When we get up to go to work in the morning we leave the house with our armour on – we’re bullet proof, unemotional robots. To the point where it’s an insult to be told ‘you’re getting too emotional’…umm, I’m human it comes with the territory.
Sisodia from his work with conscious businesses say ‘show up as a human being, people don’t need to apologise for being emotional”. Here’s the cool thing, the leader sets the bar on disclosure and emotional openness..basically they let others know whether it’s ok to be vulnerable. If you want people to come and work and leave satisfied and complete, view vulnerability as an ability.
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5. Have courageous patience 
Patience is important in life – in fact it’s a virtue, but we often underestimate it in business because we need everything to happen NOW!
We talk about getting everyone on the bus, but here’s the thing about ‘the bus’ it comes around again and again and again. In businesses undergoing change you always run into employees who have ‘been there’ and ‘done that’. They might have started out as enthusiastic but they’ve stopped jumping after all the ‘transformations’ or changes they’ve been through hat haven’t worked.
These are the people that are often deeply cynical and need time to adjust. Sisodia said they’re only deeply cynical because ‘they’re disappointed idealists – you need and they need patience’. Too often we’re quick to get rid of people ‘that aren’t on the bus’ but conscious leadership means that you need courageous patience with these people to help them get on the bus the next time it comes around.
If you’re interested in hearing more about conscious capitalism check out Raj’s book with Wholefoods founds John Mackey called (not surprisingly) ‘Conscious Capitalism’:
http://www.amazon.com/Conscious-Capitalism-Liberating-Heroic-Business/dp/1422144208

Author Pippa Kulmar

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