Businesses today are moving and reacting to their environments far more quickly than ever before. While this increased speed has led to tremendous gains in the ability of businesses to take advantage of new opportunities, it has also created a work force that is increasingly confused, disenfranchised, and out of touch with their own fundamental values and those of their co-workers and the organizations they work for.
What is needed in business today is a new perspective, one that draws from the world's collective and ancient wisdom to get to the most basic and important of human values--compassion, trust, empathy, forgiveness, understanding, and love--the values that come from the heart, not from the head. Here are seven ways to do just that.
1. Seek the organization's true vision and mission
If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. Every organization has its own unique culture, made up of its mores, its attitudes, its history, and its collective consciousness. The heart-centered leader is a master of divining an organization's culture, and then perceiving a true vision of what paths the organization and its members should take to achieve its mission, and to situate the organization's work in the larger, big-story purpose of planetary consciousness. As Xerox Parc guru John Seely Brown once put it, "The job of leadership today is not just to make money. It's to make meaning." Vision and mission bring meaning to the heart-centered organization.
2. Listen with your heart (not just your head)
Business is built on a foundation of strong relationships--both inside and outside the organization. Two-way communication within an organization--opening up a true dialogue with colleagues--is critical. Worker accessibility to top management is more common today than ever before. The best leaders encourage an open flow of ideas throughout the organization and break down the walls that separate employees from one another whenever and wherever they find them.
3. Encourage heartfelt employee participation
No one of us is as smart as all of us--every employee is a source of unlimited ideas on how to improve his or her organization's products, work processes, and systems. Most employees simply need to be invited to participate, and then positively reinforced when they do so. However, employee participation works only in an environment of complete and unconditional trust. In such an environment, workers will dedicate 110 percent of themselves to their jobs and to those with whom they work. You can encourage employee participation at work by building bridges of trust with co-workers, managers, and customers.
4. Create opportunities for balance
In the past, companies demanded--and got--the best part of their employees' lives. Today, the people who run today's best organizations have learned that helping workers balance their lives on the job and off results in a healthy environment with less stress, much higher productivity, and much lower employee turnover.
5. Share the wealth
Former labor secretary Robert Reich provides three compelling reasons for organizations to share the wealth with their employees. First, the real competition is over talent. Second, if you want to attract and keep talent, you have to pay for it. And third, if you want talent to work for your organization with the enthusiasm that comes with ownership, then you have to trade equity for it. These days, money does more than just pay the bills. It creates organizational glue.
6. Have more fun
Employees who have fun at work are happy employees. And happy employees are more productive employees. Not only that, but fun restores immunity, elevates endorphins, and reduces diseases and work absences. At the Sprint small business sales division in Kansas City, Missouri, manager Nancy Deibler found an almost unlimited number of ways to make work fun for her staff of 150 telemarketers. Afternoon bowling outings, baseball games, cookouts, goofy hats, impromptu karaoke contests, and mock casinos are just a few examples.
7. Change the organization--and the world--one person at a time
When you lead with your heart, others are sure to be touched--both inside and outside the organization. Putting people first is the key to unleashing the full power and creativity of employee teams, superior customer service, strengthened client relations, and closer and more productive relationships with vendors and suppliers. One person can make all the difference in the world! So, whether it's at work, at home, or in any other part of our the world around us, we can reawaken our hearts--and the hearts of those around us--by putting people first in all that we do. Try it, and see what happens!