Everywhere you turn, it seems the term ‘conscious’ is being used to describe an array of lifestyle choices: conscious eating, conscious shopping, conscious spending, and conscious environmental practices, just to name a few. But have you ever considered the concept of a conscious business?
A conscious business is not simply an organization that functions in a traditional sense; instead, it is a dynamic enterprise steered by individuals who consider the impact of their actions on all stakeholders. Characterized by a purpose that transcends profits, a conscious business continually questions: ‘How does our existence make the world a better place?
Considering the significant portion of our lives spent working, why not strive to make our workplaces as enriching as possible? The goal of a conscious business extends beyond mere productivity; it aims to foster a world where millions can live their lives with passion, purpose, love, compassion, and creativity.
A conscious business boosts both performance and productivity.
Fred Kofman, author of “Conscious Business, How to Build Value Through Values,” explains that a conscious business promotes the intelligent pursuit of happiness among all its stakeholders. But what are the identifiable characteristics of a conscious organization?
A conscious business doesn’t measure success solely through financial metrics. Instead, it evaluates success through three key lenses:
- The ‘It’ perspective focuses on the organization’s effectiveness, efficiency, and reliability, all crucial for increasing shareholder value and growth.
- The ‘We’ perspective emphasizes the organization’s ability to cultivate collaborative relationships that empower people to perform at their best.
- The ‘I’ perspective encourages personal growth, meaning, and engagement for each stakeholder.
Each of these dimensions, with their breadth, depth, and reach, is crucial for the well-being and sustainability of every business.
When we look at an organization through impersonal eyes (or the ‘It’ dimension), we focus on its ability to achieve goals, get results, and be profitable. This dimension is essential for success. Without the proper financial results, a company wouldn’t exist, it would be unsustainable.
When we look at an organization through the interpersonal lens (or the ‘We’ dimension), we examine its ability to build a sense of belonging, build a community that works with solidarity, trust, and respect. You look how people collaborate, how they work in teams and as a system. This is where a company’s culture solidifies. Where people feel included and appreciated in their workplace. This dimension is crucial for success as well because human beings are social creatures by nature. We crave and need the support and guidance of others to feel validated.
When we view an organization from a personal perspective (the ‘I’ dimension), we assess how individuals connect with their purpose, whether they feel fulfilled, whether their values align with the company’s, and their overall well-being and happiness. At the end of the day, engaged people are much more productive and effective in the workplace, so it becomes a win-win situation.
Conscious businesses aim to harmoniously balance these three dimensions for sustainable results. However, there may be periods when one dimension requires more attention than the others. This might include closing a financial quarter, finishing a product development sprint to create a minimum viable product, focusing time in building the connection of a new team, having crucial conversations, or taking care of specific people because they are showing symptoms of burnout.
All these situations can drive us to overly focus on one of the dimensions. However, conscious leaders do so deliberately, and always think about what they need to do to move back to the center on these three key dimensions.
A conscious business is intentional about the culture it creates.
Any organization is comprised of people who work together, supported by systems, processes and assets to deliver a common goal. Very often, the organization defines a set of values and competencies with the intention of guiding employee behaviors, but these rarely translate into the day-to-day people experience. Instead, we tend to adhere to the unwritten rules that define who will be successful, who will be accepted into the group, and who won’t. These rules, shaped by individual leaders, create the prevailing organizational culture (or ‘the way we do things around here’) and go unquestioned.
A conscious organization cultivates an environment that encourages individuals, particularly leaders, to be mindful of their behavior and to take responsibility for their actions. They learn to consciously examine the mindsets from which they operate (the ‘being’ level), which subsequently influences their behavior (the ‘doing’ level) and the results they achieve (the ‘have’ level’).
Conscious businesses have a values-driven approach to business, where the focus on profit is balanced by a focus on the planet and people. Leaders in these organizations resist the false premise that results and people are at odds.
You might wonder, “Why does any of this matter?” The answer is simple: our actions today shape our future. Just as you make healthier choices to improve your well-being, why not apply the same philosophy to business?
Embracing a conscious business model not only amplifies your professional empowerment but also enriches your personal life. It fosters growth, nurtures skills, and ultimately drives meaningful change in our world.
And isn’t that worth striving for? Dare to reimagine the possibilities that arise from transforming business into a force for good, and witness the profound impact it can have on your life and the lives of countless others.