By Kamlesh Tripathi
Is there a better way of distributing the wealth of the world than it being concentrated in few hands. And, should companies merely work for profits or should profits be a derived outcome of their pursuit of spiritual wisdom through the route of business?
Article from the Speaking Tree dated 3.6.15
CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM AND SPIRITUAL WISDOM
By Anant G Nadkarni
British author and journalist Michael Smith wrote in ‘Beyond the Bottom Line’, in 2001, that 51 of 100 top revenue-generating institutions were business corporations and not nation-states. And the then world’s three richest people owned personal wealth greater than the GDP of 34 poorest nations. Smith’s new book ‘Great Company’, published in 2015, updates that 80 richest people own more wealth than what is owned by one-half of the human race and very soon just 1% people will own wealth which equals what the rest 99% of us would have. Could the collective wisdom of business, governments, regulators, investors, leaders and people of all types bring about better distributive justice?
Rubert Eccles, professor of strategy and Business at Harward Business School, in his book ‘Integrated Reporting Movement’ on corporate sustainability says, “The spirit of Ubuntu, an African values system, was suggested as a natural foundation for effective corporate governance.” Simply put it means something like, ‘I am because you are, you are because we are.” The authors keep stressing on ‘integrated thinking’ as being more critical than integrated reporting.
Cindy Wigglesworth in her book ‘SQ21: the Twenty-one Skills of Spiritual Intelligence’ defines spiritual intelligence in a faith-friendly and faith-neutral way as: “The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.” it shows up as our ‘best of head and heart’ every moment, every day and with equanimity under all real-life or work circumstances. While appreciating the diversity in leadership profiles, spiritual intelligence is not only another type of intelligence among many, but “it also becomes a source of guidance and direction of the other dimensions of fully developing human potential”.
In a process of broadly four clusters-knowing oneself better; knowing the world from a new position; by working hard on self-mastery; and developing social-mastery- it helps to create a spiritually resonant culture. There are 21 skills and methods that form an assessment and measuring process for leadership development. Spiritual intelligence can be acquired and it actually works. It is practised by business leaders like John Mackey, co-CEO of the $11billion company Whole Foods Market that runs 340 stores with a 70,000 team. Mackey has not only produced a famous book ‘Conscious Capitalism’ but admits that this process pulls together analytical, emotional systems and other aspects of thinking to generate a more conscious leader.
Mackey says that the view of conscious capitalism is therefore quite contrary to what Friedman held about the ‘business of business’ just being running it well. Mackey asserts, “We want to improve the health and well-being of everyone on this planet through high quality foods and we can’t fulfill this mission unless we are highly profitable … Just as people cannot live without eating, business cannot live without profits. But most people don’t live to eat, and neither must businesses live just to make profits.”
The critical point of convergence comes in when Mackey focusses on helping everyone create greater meaning and purpose- which resonates with the core principle of spiritual intelligence which is to cultivate the practice of reaching beyond oneself. Ratan Tata, as chairman of Tata Sons, while commenting on Mackey’s book said, “Businesses need to be driven by a purpose higher than maximizing profit, and they must ensure optimizing benefits to all stakeholders. Only if that happens, can capitalism deliver to all humanity the full societal benefits it is capable of. “The purpose of Conscious Capitalism or Integrated Thinking could perhaps be realised only when an overarching facet of spiritual-leadership guides.