What were you doing last year at this time? It’s easy to look back on that time and reminisce about how naïve we were then. Currently, you are still working hard, making strategic decisions, paying the bills, and leading your organization. But the landscape has changed drastically and, as a leader, you must slow down, especially this year, and ensure your employees feel a sense of connection, comfort, and humanity in ways that you may have never shown before.
Several years ago I was introduced to the Conscious Capitalism community. I found the tenets to be something that resonated with my own core values. The term Conscious Capitalism refers to businesses that serve the interests of all major stakeholders – customers, employees, investors, suppliers, the community, and the environment. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods was one of the central leaders of the movement and realized this concept on Memorial Day 1981.
At that time his fledgling Whole Foods Market was basically wiped out by a flood. Unexpectedly, dozens of customers and neighbors showed up to help; employees worked for free, not knowing if the store would survive; suppliers resupplied on credit; investors stepped up, too, and the Whole Foods Market’s bank loaned it money to restock; the store reopened in 28 days. This is when he realized the inherent good that can be found in humankind.
Things are hard right now. We find ourselves in a moment in history where so many people are struggling – whether it is their work from home situation, helping children who are in distant learning, not able to see family far away, or having problems juggling even making ends meet. Right now we are seeing individuals step up as never before…working longer hours, being put into situations we never dreamed of, and, for most of us, trying to make other people’s lives better in some way.
The Four Characteristics
Leaders today often ask me – what can I do to remove obstacles for people and support them as best I can? As we scramble to adapt to current circumstances, at times it feels as if we are “building the plane in the air”. Now more than ever being able to remember the core ideology that made your company so special in the first place needs to be revisited and placed front and center. Some of the elements specifically relating to Conscious Capitalism are:
Some of the Fortune 500 companies that you will recognize and who is a part of the Conscious Capitalism community include:
Whole Foods Costco
Panera Bread Trader Joes
Container Store Nordstrom
Jamba Juice Starbucks
Southwest Airlines Lululemon
Conscious Leadership During the Holidays
So how can you implement some tenets of Conscious Capitalism in your own workplace? There is no playbook, and definitely, no one-size-fits-all approach to how we should deal with our current set of circumstances. One of the simplest and most timely ways is by impacting your work culture in a positive way over the holiday season.
While the holidays are a time for celebration, they can also be busy, overwhelming, and stressful. A great workplace isn’t just about throwing an online Zoom party or sending out bonuses, it’s also about connecting with employees, listening for how they are really doing, and lending support wherever possible.
Here are just a few ideas to inspire you and spread holiday cheer in your organization well into the New Year:
In summary, we are all given much in our lives and, as leaders, it is our responsibility to give back to our employees, our customers, our community, and society as a whole. Making an extra effort to connect and care for our employees in a very tough environment is absolutely needed. How businesses respond will have a lasting impact on employee behavior including, engagement, productivity, and loyalty. I truly believe that people will look back on this time and remember how you lead! My goal is for you to be remembered fondly for not just your strategy and stewardship, but also for your compassion and care.