Here’s leadership, 2017: Retired intelligence experts warn the president is tweeting and talking an entire nation into dangerous territory. We’ll leave election hacking out of it, but the digitalization of everything is affecting leadership as well. A high-tech CEO warns we could destroy ourselves with robot drones if we’re not careful. Tangible climate change and concurrent disasters are minimalized by a coporate-ocracy — and an oil titan is Secretary of State. If you’re feeling dismal about leadership, you’re not alone. But leadership is what will save us — and there are corporations as well as leaders at the forefront of a new consciousness, according to a great new book by business and leadership expert Shawn Vij. The book is called Moral Fiber: Awakening Corporate Consciousness and it’s a beacon of hope — and wisdom.
Vij had his own dark times as a cutthroat executive, which he recounts with a kind of regretful candor. He chose profits over people, strategic growth over compassion, and emulated colleagues who took an “it’s nothing person, just business” approach. But high-flying, luxe-hotel staying, big paycheck-earning Vij was miserable. Was it just the nature of capitalism? he wondered, but found that concept heartbreakingly tough to accept.
Luckily there’s a great ending to that part of his story. By chance and good fortune, Vij met the Dalai Lama, and the spiritual leader gave him some profound, transforming advice. Goodness and leadership do go hand in hand, Vij realized. He began looking at leaders with fresh eyes, and found that those who rose to the top of their fields weren’t just heartless ladder-climbers at all. In fact, many had a clear and enduring sense of True North in terms of ethics. These are the leaders who see a larger picture: a planet and its people, community by community and business by business. Their stories and strategies formed the nucleus of Moral Fiber.
Vij’s book is not just a collection of inspirational true accounts, however. It’s also a tangible action plan that anyone in business — or, for that matter, in any organization — can follow. Vij makes the convincing argument that a business is best able to sustain itself and continue to grow if it considers the greater good, not just dollar signs. In case this is a question, consider this: The cost of doing business that breaks the law is becoming higher and higher, despite the present-day administration.
Certainly the challenges facing many organizations in terms of hiring today can be better overcome if a company commits to being a better employer. As toxic workplaces come under fire after viral reports by employees who’ve had enough, investors often act decisively — consider the ouster of Kalanick at Uber. Small and medium businesses have been proven to grow faster when their people are aligned with the company’s goals — and feel empowered and valued enough to go the extra mile.
Todays workforce, as well, is dominated by millennials, who consider organizational culture a key factor in their decision to join a company. Larger enterprises benefit from more diverse and creative workforces: employees given the freedom and support to innovate tend to, and the need to innovate is driving competition in countless fields. When a business values its people, its people can value the business. It’s that simple.
But values-based corporate cultures are already more mainstream that we might think: in retail, in tech, in finance, and in countless industries, there are telling examples of leaders thinking with their hearts as well as their hearts. Vij explains the how and why of their strategic thinking, and proves his point again and again.
It’s an approach puts an entirely different lens on today’s headlines. It points out the difference between Merkel and Tillerson; between Starbucks and Wal-Mart, between Apple and Washington. Facing challenges to our very constitution, certainly the governement and its citizens are at a crossroads. But in the 21st century, so is business. The sooner we all work from a shared ethical core the better, certainly. We can start by emulating the good side of leadership — and this book is a perfect manual on how to start.
For more on Shawn Vij and his book, Moral Fiber, visit