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The Fourth Industrial Revolution is having incredible and unpredictable impacts on technology, the economy and work. In a recent Time article, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, was asked how we can prepare ourselves for the change that’s ahead. “Up until now we defined our purpose of life by production and by consumption,” he said. “Perhaps now, we move from that narrative to one of sharing and caring.”
I’m the CEO of a beverage company that partners with a nonprofit organization, and I have seen this evolution in progress. I believe a new way of doing business — one that involves sharing and caring — is the key.
As automation increasingly infiltrates our lives, we’ll need to create a counterbalance with increased humanization in all parts of our global ecosystem. This means that we’ll no longer be able to sequester issues and tackle them one at a time as we’ve done, or tried to do, in the past. For example, I believe we can’t separate the production of plastic in one country from the melting glaciers in another. The infinitely complex problems we face today and those we’ll face tomorrow demand holistic solutions.
What is the essential motivation and guiding force in this new kind of business? Love.
Love the business.
It’s important that you believe in every solution your business offers. Although not every passion project becomes a viable business, I believe those born from love have a better chance of weathering hardship and evolving. To put it simply: People who love their business will likely stick by it through good times and bad. To help keep your business goals in view, make sure all employees are clear on the company’s values, its key performance indicators (KPIs) and how each team member fits into both the organization and the global ecosystem. Encourage your team to have personal goals and KPIs as well so they can bring their own passions to the larger group effort.
Love the mission.
Leading with love involves interest in more than just producing and selling; it requires a mission that expresses and promotes love.
I believe the first element that comes into play for your company’s mission is branding. A 2018 study found that nearly 80% of U.S. consumers feel companies should positively impact society. Also, consider that more than one-in-three U.S. workers are a millennial, and research has found that this demographic wants to work for companies that mix money and a mission. This shows that making clear what your company stands for is important not only to consumers but also to who you want to hire in the future.
From my perspective, it’s important to take things one step further than branding; you should know that what you do every day truly contributes to positive change. Every individual and company has the potential to impact the world, so get clear about what you’d like that impact to be. It is your job as a leader to remind your team (and yourself) why all of you came to the company in the first place and, during challenges, why momentary hardships are worth it. Communicate the company’s story with your team, and show them the connection between their individual roles and the mission of your brand. Invite them to dig deeper, and encourage them to take innovation into their own hands.
Love the people.
How do you serve your consumers and employees? In my experience, loving current and potential consumers and viewing them as people with real wants and needs can help you understand them; you can see how your product plays a role in their lives. And companies with happy employees — people who feel valued, cared for and loved — perform better.
A number of successful businesses practice servant leadership to benefit their employees. A business is its people, so treat them with love. I’ve found that beyond doing the obvious (i.e., paying a decent wage and providing benefits), treating your team with love can be as simple as showing your gratitude and sharing specific examples of what you are grateful for. You can also show an interest in your team as individuals and their unique personalities and lives. Above all, be authentic. Share your real self with your employees and consumers, and let them share their real selves too.
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I believe the leader’s most important job is to bring a human element to business. Can you imagine what the world would be like if all leaders lead with a spirit of love?
March 14, 2019 at 08:11AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs