Executive coaches, HR personnel and leaders themselves have started playing a key role in leading the way in raising the motivations that drive business culture. They have a moral mission to help others become more conscious of their negative motivations and behaviors, and by instilling healthier ones that will result in sustainable success. The following illustrate some of the key principles that have been put in place and have resulted in success:
Instilling a sense of Holism
Educating the CEO and other senior leaders to see that the business is not an island unto itself and that they cannot afford to ignore what is outside. What business does affects us all, and if driven only by greed and self-interest it damages not only its own people, the wider community, and the environment, but it undermines itself. This damages the bottom line. Unilever Asia’s commitment to improving local communities and Coca Cola’s commitment to building health clinics in rural China exemplify a recognition of this.
Questioning the sacred cow of shareholder value and emphasising instead value to customers, suppliers, and employees. British retailer John Lewis dedicates itself to these, and is one of the few UK companies making a profit in the current crisis. Replacing the goal of open-ended profit with the notion of a decent profit. Two companies to embrace the principle of fair trade are international fruit and vegetable distributor Chiquita Banana and Starbucks.
Being Vision and Value Led
Defining business as the wealth creator of wider society and accepting that corporate taxes are a patriotic opportunity, not something to be avoided. Articulating company values that support a sense of mission and higher service. Living our values adds meaning to our lives and work. This boosts morale, creativity, and productivity.
Having a Sense of Vocation
Replacing arrogance with humility and encouraging business to join the higher professions in serving society, the environment, and future generations. Redefining the concept of CSR, as in BP’s ‘Beyond Petroleum’. The higher purpose of HR is expressed eloquently by Aristotle: “It is clear that in matters of the economy, people are of greater significance than material property—and their quality of greater concern than that of the goods making up their wealth.” In fulfilling its moral mission, HR’s role in people management can encompass people enrichment. A company that enriches its people enriches itself and its community. The result shows, inevitably, in a healthy bottom line.
Making Positive Use of Adversity
In the words of Nobel economist Amartya Sen, seeing in crisis “an opportunity to address long-term problems where people are willing to reconsider established conventions”. British food retailer Sainsbury’s is thriving during the crisis by introducing a low-cost food line that preserves quality while giving customers better value.
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