I’ve met some very inspiring leaders this year. One thing is for sure: they all shared two characteristics: a deep sense of purpose and the courage to be vulnerable.
In the past months, I’ve had a series of conversations with Steve Macadam, the CEO of EnPro industries, a large American industrial conglomerate. Those talks gave me hope for another corporate world that makes the world a better place. They also reinforced my belief that it all starts with the SELF (becoming another kind of leader).
In a few years’ time, Steve and the rest of the company have dramatically increased turnover and profit, as well as human development and level of consciousness, by switching from a traditional to a dual bottom line approach.
Dual Bottom Line means the company places equal value on financial results and human development. The trick? No trade-off between the two! “For the sake of human development, you may have to give up some high-performing employees. You may decide to not open new very profitable markets. And you may have to discuss all this with your board”.
While the idea may look simple, it requires strong leadership to make that happen. It’s not trivial.
As for most inspired CEO’s, it was Steve’s own self-reflection and contemplative practices that led him to the vision of the company he was called to create. And his vision is what motivated him whatever the consequences, even if it meant losing his job. It became a calling.
A great organizational metamorphosis starts with a personal transformation of its leaders, from the top to each layer of the organization. And it always starts with the same questions: “Which company am I called to create?”, “How badly do I want it?” and “What am I willing to give up to get there?”
“First answer these 3 questions: Which company am I called to create? How badly do I want it? What am I willing to give up for?” Then it’s about creating, in the organization, a level of deep love and respect for other human being. Steve Macadam, CEO - EnPro industries
Like many organizations, EnPro has very early in its transformation defined new organizing principles and ways of working in order to support the dualistic approach.
Still, despite what many leaders think, there was a step that could not be skipped. It’s about creating in the organization a level of deep love and respect for other human beings.
“Only then are people ready to connect with each other in a way that allows better answers to come”.
At EnPro Industries, the focus at individual level is to help people shift:
to a stronger experience of the present moment
from an ego centric way of thinking about the world to an eco-centric view of the world
from a rigid to an open mental model
Each leader is invited to enter into a challenging journey of “Self-Awareness and Self-Mastery” to increase the connection with its own purpose and its ability to relate to others.
With Self-Awareness, leaders create a connection to their intrinsic value, worth, equality and purpose. With Self-Mastery they gain deep insight into their actions, intentions, motivations and reactions. In this way, they increase their ability to take control of their life as a leader without being blown by thoughts, emotions, physical sensations or difficult circumstances.
Many practices are available for that. EnPro chose practices like journaling, active listening, meditation, 360 feedback, purposeful pause, …
From this higher level of individual awareness, and with other practices inspired by collective intelligence (circle practices, check in and out, “I” statement, appreciative inquiry, my voice,…) it was possible to transform groups of people into authentic communities. The results: more creativity, better idea’s, higher performance & engagement and a strong backbone to support the new organizing principles and structures.
We live in fast-changing times with ever increasing demands which requires fast learning individuals and communities.
I believe it is only by putting equal attention on individual, collective and institutional level that organizations will be able to achieve deep transformation and increase meaningful productivity.
For more information about Steve and his work, check his speech at the Mindful Leadership Conference in Washington DC in November, 2017 (The inspiring conference starts after the company presentation (minute 5.51).