Harvard Business Review and McKinsey conducted a Management Innovation contest in May 2012 on the Long-term Capitalism Challenge. I am pleased to inform you that I participated in this event and submitted my paper, titled: “Allow Capitalism to rise to its full natural potential – Infuse Mastery in Self, Team and Organizational DNA.”
Following is a brief summary of the paper along with the description of the problem (long term capitalism challenge) and the proposed solution.
We are at a historic and momentous socioeconomic inflection point where remarkable progress and deep crisis have converged to create an uncertain scenario. Free market capitalism has resulted in unprecedented growth and prosperity while at the same time took a heavy toll on the social and ecological balance. In reality though, all socioeconomic wellness indicators point to the fact that things have been getting a lot better. This could be the greatest opportunity in recorded history for democracy, capitalism and human innovation to evolve and flourish to their highest natural potential.
Business organizations can lead the way in this transformation by transcending the traditional motivational practices based on security, fear, intimidation, self-centered ambition and greed and appealing to the deep human drive for excellence, mastery, meaning and yearning to satisfy the whole being – intellect, heart and spirit. This paper presents a model integrating pioneering business practices with cutting edge work in neural science, human psychology and human potential. By bringing practical rigor and execution discipline to the “soft” qualities of human dimension, we can dramatically impact organizational effectiveness and the execution of fundamental business functions.
“We seem to be beautifully equipped to deal with an environment that no longer exists.” Our socioeconomic processes, reward systems and methods to motivate and inspire performance are based on control, compliance, intimidation, fear, greed, growth and achievement at any cost. This might still work for some organizations but will not elicit maximum engagement and productivity from those who like to be on the cutting edge and be the very best. People in this heightened state of awareness get inspired by meaning, purpose and mastery. This changes the rules of the game in business, economy and in politics. This explains why we are facing a socioeconomic crisis in spite of making outstanding progress in the past 100 plus years. The model that rewards greed and doesn’t penalize conflict is taking us to the brink of disaster and the growth of collective awareness, aspiration and consciousness offers us hope for an extraordinary and purposeful growth.
These challenges we are facing are not new and sudden developments. They appear worse than before because of the human nature of latching on to negative news and glorifying the past by selectively picking information. In an advanced democratic society like ours, we cannot afford to play victims. The problem is not merely a selfish politician or a greedy banker or businessman; it is the collective will and aspiration of the people. We did not have opportunities and temptations for financial fraud and greed at this scale in the past. Even the political divisiveness we are witnessing is not new. In fact our wise founding fathers understood this aspect of human nature (picking either or ideology) very well and setup the two-party system with appropriate checks and balances.
Our challenges are being further amplified because of the transparency that is possible due to technology innovation. We are also demanding accountability and holding ourselves and our leadership to higher standards. We want economic prosperity without collateral damage, such as stressful work place, hurting the environment and the community; we want to create shareholder value without stifling creativity, innovation and employee engagement. We are at a stage in our history where this reality is dawning upon a larger percentage of our country’s population than ever before. Typically this happens because of the convergence of two forces: (1) Existing systems begin to crack and show signs of failing (2) We the people (the collective consciousness) get more evolved and are unwilling to put up with incomplete, band aid solutions.
The current socio-economic crisis is forcing us to take a hard look at our accepted models and so is the rise in human consciousness. Both trends are converging to awaken us to the fact that a more humanistic, inclusive and conscious approach to growing business (economy) and resolving social, political and ecological conflicts is the way to go forward.
Solution: Business organizations and leaders as role models for enlightened leadership
Some of the best, brightest and courageous leaders have decided to create and play by the “New Rules of the Game.” Business becomes the playground to fulfill our deepest yearnings and realize our full potential. We don’t have to sacrifice personal values to achieve financial results. Business can be a place to have fun where individual effort and team work are rewarded and members of the team hold each other accountable. We bring the “whole person” to work. The new superstars of business are authentic individuals who combine a sharp intellect, professional knowledge and work ethic with a collaborative and inspiring leadership skill that demonstrates and values empathy, integrity, compassion, humility, emotional maturity and social and spiritual intelligence. These leaders are not only well trained and experienced in Business strategy, execution and operations but are adept at connecting at a deeper level and inspiring teams and organizations to superior performance. They integrate best practices in business with mastery.
Mastery is converting our greatest and deepest intentions to consistent and impactful actions. It is also developing the ability to demonstrate the toughest things to do, such as being truly transparent and authentic, detach from wanting to be right and accept criticism and praise evenly. Living in a state of inspired action, independent of external circumstances is what human beings have aspired to since the dawn of creation. Is there anything more important than this characteristic for a business leader, CEO or a corporate executive who is constantly pulled in different directions by the various constituents of the business and is faced with right versus right choices frequently?
Emotional Mastery helps a leader to treat adversity as an opportunity for growth and in developing a high degree of self-awareness to identify blind spots, self-esteem to accept the (intention to action) gap, self-confidence to admit it and self-discipline to work on it relentlessly. It takes courage to be authentic, requires us to be authentic to build trust and have self-belief and self-esteem to demonstrate compassion. These are the pillars of mastery.
We knew that mastery and enlightened Leadership principles were good for the soul and personal fulfillment. We are now recognizing that this is also crucial for sustainable long-term growth for business and could be the single most important differentiator for stellar performance, execution, innovation and effectively solving the most critical business challenges. Superior business performance and leadership effectiveness are directly connected to Self-Mastery.
Developing and sustaining an enlightened leadership team and organization is a process, not an event. There is no short cut to mastery and greatness. We have to bring practical rigor and execution discipline to the “soft” qualities of human dimension. The key is to integrate the human dimension with business processes to enhance their effectiveness.