Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Heart of Great Managing

Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter in their book :"12 The Elements of Great Managing" write:

In our studies of hundreds of thousands of managers and work teams across the globe, it is very clear that great managers have an instinctive awareness that what they are doing is contributing more than a profit. Great managers achieve sustained profitability beacuse they make a connection to something beyond profit. They see the result of their work in the life of each person they manage.
Their impact transcendes mere business. For many it is almost an spiritual issue, no matter their particular faith. Their motivation stems from deeply held beliefs about their responsibility to those around them. Whether they believe it is Providence or pure chance that puts them in the same office or factory with their team, these managers understand viscerally the scientific truth what they do will have a large effect - maybe a lifelong effect - on their colleagues. They realize, given the percentage of waking time their teams spend at work, how much influence they have, not just over their people's "work life" but their whole life.
Most will tell you management is a solemn responsibility, something from which they take tremendous satisfaction, but it also weighs heavily on their conscience because they take it so seriously. With it, they say, rests not only the fiduciary responsibilities of protecting other people's money and striving for a good return, but a special kind of stewardship over people's lives. Employees say that both sides of the coin, the personal and professional, depend on a manager who can give them the guidance, support, advocacy, and resources that motivate them to reciprocate their best efforts.
... The managers who are best at getting the most from the people are those who give the most to them. Those who create the greatest financial performance start with the least pecuniary motivations. They work hard to do the right thing for their people, and they end up doing well.
That is the heart of great managing.
Not possible to lead this way, unless you love your people and care for them deeply, isn't it?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Without Love....

Fred, author of Conscious Business writes:
Many business people consider "love" to be a personal matter, certainly nothing that belongs in the corporation, yet love forms the foundation of all human interactions. Without love, there is no teamwork; without love, there is no leadership; without love, there is no real commitment to customer service.
As I said earlier, Conscious Business is a wonderful book and ought to be read by anyone who is leading a team.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Conscious Business

Fred Koffman in his book Conscious Business writes:
"Work is love made visible", said Kahlil Gibran. Service, rather than greed, is what drives a market economy. Business is a crucial arena for the expression of the human spirit. But love, service, and spirituality and not terms associated with the market place. Many of us believe that it is necessary to sell out in order to succeed in business, or to drop out in order to pursue a spiritual life. This is false polarity. When business is conducted with high level of consciousness, there is no tension between material and spiritual wealth. Conscious leadership can create a conscious business, one that integrates wisdom and compassion in support of human development. In a conscious business, ancient wisdom and modern economics come together.
Business is not typically seen as a spiritual activity. It is supposed to pursue only money oriented goals devoid of any deeper significance. The only worthwhile businesses, however are conscious businesses: those that tackle their work as spiritual activity.
 Coming up Love and Business as defined by Fred.

Friday, September 25, 2009

From Unconscious to Conscious Leadership

I have been meaning to write about Conscious Business by Fred Koffman for a long time, but it had to happen today. I got introduced to Fred's book last Navratri, when Hemang gifted it to me.

I read it and I feel deeply in love with the book, for the principles that Fred talks in his book resonate very deeply with me and some of them - unconditional responsiblity, emotional mastery etc are common themes that we teach in APEX and other Art of Living programs as well.

If you have not read this book, do yourself a favor, buy yourself a copy, it will be one of the best professional and personal investments you would ever make.

Fred writes:
Success in business requires dealing with human beings, which is to say conscious beings. This book presents the basic principles and skills needed to deal with people while honoring their conscious nature. Although this is helpful for anybody who works, it is fundamental for those who manage and lead others. Great leadership is conscious leadership. 
Before diving into the principles of conscious leadership, Fred outlines,  outstandingly, as to what constitutes Unconscious business:
1) In terms of attitudes, three things
a) Unconscious Blame: The tendency to explain all difficulties exclusively as the consequence of forces beyond your influence, to see yourself as an absolute victim of external circumstances.
b) Essential Selfishness: is the exclusive focus on ego gratification, without the concern for the well being of others.
c) Ontological arrogance: is the claim that things are the way you see them, that your truth is the only truth. It is the belief that the only valid perspective is the one you hold, and that anybody who sees things differently is mistaken.
2) In terms of behaviours:
a) Manipulative communication: is the choice to withhold relevant information in order to get what you want. Those who communicate maninpulatively seek to pursue their personal agenda above all else.
b) Narcissistic negotiation: is the attempt to prove your worth by beating up your opponents. The narcissist's primary goal is not to achieve what he wants, but to show the other "who's the boss".
c) Negligent coordination: is a careless way to collaborate, making promises without a serious committment to honor them.
3) In terms of Reactions
a) Emotional Incompetence: manifests in two ways: explosion and repression. The first is acting out your feelings, indulging in counterproductive behaviours that only serve to discharge your emotional impluses. The second is hiding your feelings behind a facade of stoicism, pretending that nothing is going on while you are seething inside.
Fred writes:.
Culture is best described as the standard beliefs and expectations of "how we do things around here". Culture develops from the messages that group members receive about how they are expected to behave. It comprises shared goals, beliefs, routines, needs, or values. Cultures exist in all groups, from corporations to sport clubs, from schools to families.
Developing a conscious culture is a business imperative. Culture undergrids an organization. It enables the execution of the organization's strategy, the achievement of its goals, and the fullfilment of its mission....at the core of every productive culture are the seven qualities of conscious business. These qualities are rare in people, but they are even rarer in organizations. Establishing them as the organizational way of doing things require a cultural change.
To change a culture, the leaders have to change the messages people receive about what they must do to fit in.....A small change in senior managers behavior can send a big message....
The good news is that a cultural change inevitably leads to an organizational change. If the leadership can change people's belief about "the way things are done in this organization" things will definitely be done differently.
The bad news is that changing a culture is exceedingly difficult. Culture is not something that leaders can change by decree. They can only reshape it through new behaviors. The chicken-and-egg problem is that leadership behaviors are strongly determined by the existing culture. Furthermore, those who have reached leadership positions are the ones who thrived in the old culture. How cab they lead the organization away from the patterns that helped them succeed? Only through a change in consciousness. The spark that ignites a process of cultural change is a change in the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of top management: in other words, a shift from unconscious to conscious leadership. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Khalil Gibran on Work

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. To love life through labor is to be intimate with life's innermost secret. All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Antidote to fear

Via Michael McKinney's Leading Blog, a recent post on "The Application of Love Leadership", Michael writes:
I wanted to share with you an excerpt from John Hope Bryant’s book Love Leadership. The subtitle – The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World – says it all. Bryant is the founder of Operation HOPE, a non-profit provider of economic tools and services that has as its long range objective to literally “drive itself out of business.”

Bryant says we have “lost our story line;” too focused on the me instead of the we, we have become indifferent. He describes the opportunity to lead he found, this way:
In inner cities today, you’ll often find a liquor store right next to a check casher, next to a pawn shop, next to a rent-to-own store, next to a payday lender. If misery loves company, then this is a pile-on. There’s simply a super-abundance of predatory businesses, and many people have lost hope. They are poor in spirit: they’re not skeptical—they’re cynical; they have low self-esteem and negative role models; their get-up-and-go has got up and went. So they go to the check-cashing service to forfeit their today, and go to the payday lender to forfeit their tomorrow. And because they don’t believe they’ll have a tomorrow, they go to the liquor store to forget about their yesterday.

In these communities, poor people spend roughly $10 billion each year on what I call ghettoized financial services—high-interest and high-fee check cashing, payday loans, refund anticipation loans, title lending, rent-to-own, and the like. I know of one individual who got a payday loan for $800; by the time he finished pay it off six years later, after rolling this payday loan over countless times, he had paid $15,000 in interest on that $800 loan. These businesses are in many cases short-term-oriented, purely transactional business models that add little value, and even deteriorate the customer base they purport to serve.

These businesses are ultimately led by one thing: fear. People are afraid to lift themselves up, to lead themselves out of their situation, to think for themselves. Bad capitalism preys mercilessly on these fears.

Throughout my journey from the inner city to my work as a social entrepreneur, I have had a front dash row seat for witnessing how fear destroys a community. But I would learn that there is another way to live and to do business. It would take almost 30 years for me to understand that the antidote to fear is love.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Courage to Love

Lance writes in his book "One: The Art and Practice of Conscious Leadership"

It takes courage, strength and commitment to build and sustain relationships that are based on love and therefore inspiration. Gandhi said "Love is the prerogative of the brave." It takes courage to tell your colleagues how much you love their work, how much you love being part of a particular team or organization. And yet, those are the things that inspire people. We need love in every aspect of our lives, not just in our personal lives, but at work, too. We are whole beings. We are humans, not workers or functions who leave our need to be loved at home and then go to work - we are one.
Fear is the psychological, emotional, and spiritual opposite of love. No one is inspired by fear. People may be motivated by fear, but they are never inspired by it. Everything that inspires us comes from love, without exception. In fact there is nothing in our lives from which we get inspiration that does not also give us love. If a sunset inspires you, it is because you love sunsets, feeling a sense of oneness with the myth, mystery and magic of the sunset. If a person inspires you, it is because you love that person, feeling a sense of oneness with them. Love is the place that gives rise to inspiration.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Conscious Leadership and Love

Lance Secretan in his book "One: The Art and Practice of Conscious Leadership" writes:
I define Love as the place where my heart touches your heart and adds to who we both are as persons. When we connect with others heart to heart, it doesn't mean that we are weak, and it does not require anyone to "submit" to someone or "give up" anything. In a dialogue that comes from the sweetness of your heart to that of another, there are only winners, not losers - there is, simply, oneness.
Conscious leaders who have the courage to be humble, forgiving, and loving - and therefore authentic - are much more inspiring and effective leaders, because they use their hearts to engage the hearts of others. There is deep wisdom and power in opening our hearts and using it to relate to others. These are the relationships that inspire, because they are heart to heart and cause us to feel and connect as one.
Considering that the greatest human need is to love and be loved, it is disconcerting that so many leaders have themselves lost their connection to myth, mystery, and magic and therefore to their hearts. Rediscovering love could inspire them and others.
Lance goes on to add:
When we discuss the word "love" in our organizations, some people's eyes roll, and some think that love is an emotion and a feeling that has no place in the work environment. But we are whole human beings, our lives are not separate, disconnected pieces - we are one - and we yearn to be loved and to love in every part of our whole lives, whether at work or at home. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Defining Love - Part 2

Continuing from the previous post, Tim goes on to say:
In your personal life, you can make decisions based on personal needs. If you wish to remain friendly with a toxic person, you have every right to do so. But business is not personal. Love in the bizworld is not some sacrificial process where we must all love one another come what may. There is no free love in the new economy. Every member of your team depends on each and every other member to contribute. You can't afford to take on people who will sink your value boat. So the definition of love must be modified to guarantee that it means not only you, but all the people who populate your bizworld, are value-added (adding value) for that bizworld.
Here, then, is my definition of love business: the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with your bizpartners.
What are our intangibles? They are our knowledge, our network and our compassion. These are the keys to true bizlove. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Defining Love - Part 1

I came across Tim Sander's book "Love is the Killer App" way back in 2002 and one of the things that I really liked was the way Tim's prescription of reading and aggregating wisdom. Since then I went back to the book several times, reading random pages. Tim was the first book that I encountered that talked openly about Love in the context of workplace.

He writes:
"But first, what do I mean by love?
The best general definition I have ever read is in the noted philosopher and writer Milton Mayeroff's 1972 book On Caring: "Love is the selfless promotion of the growth of the others" When you are able to help others grow to become the best people they can be, you are being loving - and you, too, grow."
More in the next post.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Love is not an act, it is a noun.

[Via Wisdomblog]

Q. How can I love and respect myself? And break a pattern that has been in me since I was seven years old?

Sri Sri: Forget about it, take it for granted. And this is one such thing. If you try to love yourself, you would be in trouble. The more effort you put, the longer it takes for you to realize this. So take it for granted that everyone loves themselves for sure and you too love yourself. You are love. Love is not an act, it is a noun.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Key is in the One

Stephen Covey states a universal but rarely understood truth:

"The key to ninety-nine is the one....how you treat the one reveals how you regard the ninety-nine because everyone is ultimately one." 

The realization that everyone is ultimately one can never happen at the level of intellect - however much one tries, one cannot see that unity, more so because the nature of the intellect is always to compare, to judge, to evaluate, to justify, to reason.....and so on. We all are conditioned by our environment, by the society, by parents, by our education and all the while huge emphasis is placed on "standing out". It becomes even more prominent by the time we join the workforce. We have difference of opinions, thoughts, ideas, perceptions, attitudes on even simple things, forget the fact how things come up when we are in conflict or worse in competition.The Performance Appraisal Systems at work are designed to accentuate the differences, to pull a few people up and push a few other down.

So with so much emphasis on "being different", "being unique", how does one see the unity? For we are always being pushed and forced to look at otherness thereby conditioning ourselves to constantly see the difference and in the process alienating ourselves from our own Self.

So how does one get to see the Unity?

Two probable answers from one who is still searching.....
a) Grace of the Master and/or
b) Spiritual Practices - Sudarshan Kriya and Meditation.

The mystics say that the unity is realized only in the depths of Meditation. Till this becomes an experiential reality all that is in our hands is how we consciously treat the person - irrespective of his/her age, sex, nationality, religion, caste, designation, title - in front of us. All we can do is to bring forth our best and treat the person with respect and dignity, without hurting or violating their sense of worth. We can do this if and only if we are able to love the person unconditionally in the moment. For Leadership is Love and we cannot experience the Unity we are seeking unless we are deeply in love - with life and with our own selves!

Leading by Serving

Came across James A. Autry's book on The Servant Leader via Servant Leadership blog. James writes about servant leadership in the context of work. He weaves the principles of Spirituality in presenting the concept of Servant Leadership.

James writes:
This concept of serving others is an essential part of what I believe about leadership, let me offer you a list of six things I believe about leadership:

1) Leadership is not about controlling people; it's about caring for people and being a useful resource for people.

2) Leadership is not about being boss; it's about being present for people and building a community at work.

3) Leadership is not about holding on to territory; it's about letting go of ego, bringing your spirit to work, being your best and most authentic self.

4) Leadership is less concerned with pep talks and more concerned with creating a place in which people can do good work, can find meaning in their work, and can bring their spirits to work.
5) Leadership, like life, is largely a matter of paying attention.
6) Leadership requires love.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Leadership and Love

We begin our Leadership journey by this fantastic quote - which incidentally also is the theme for this blog as well - by Sri Sri RaviShankar, founder, Art of Living Foundation.

"Leadership and love go hand-in-hand. Only a leader who loves his people naturally, selflessly and unconditionally will reap success."