A successful and sustainable recovery from the global financial crisis hinges on nothing less than a business revolution - and HR personnel must be the "foot soldiers", according to prominent management philosopher and quantum physicist Danah Zohar.
The downturn has created an opportunity for organisations to "raise their game", Zohar told delegates at the AHRI convention in Sydney last week, and it's up to HR to "help that game be raised".
The GFC, she notes, was inevitable. Capitalism, in its current form, was "a monster set to consume itself".
It was a system based on the primary assumptions that people were materially-oriented and inherently selfish and in which business thrived in a climate of fear, greed, anger and self-assertiveness.
"Recovery won't be sustainable if we keep going in the same way," Zohar says. "A complete paradigm shift is required, and nothing less will do."
Enabling "sustained lifelong peak performance" in the business world - as with our personal lives - depends on the integration of the "four main intelligences", Zohar says.
physical intelligence - dealing with materials and infrastructure and building physical capital;
rational - logic, problem solving and strategic thinking;
emotional - teamwork, trust, transparency and truth; and
spiritual - visions and values and a sense of meaning and purpose.
Total intelligence, Zohar says, is when all four intelligences are working together. "All these intelligences are critical and all need to be developed."
But spiritual intelligence is the crucial element, she says. A sense of meaning and purpose is critical in retaining talent. It forms the base from which the other intelligences grow, and the basis of a sustainable business strategy.
"Meaning and purpose are not the icing on the cake," she says. "They're the hard stuff."
And it is HR's mission to "present this case to the CEO - without fear". It is HR's mission to ask: "What the hell game have we been playing and what in the hell should we do now?"
HR must be the "conscience of the CEO", she says. It must "contain the pain in the company", encourage exploration and growth, and "create a culture where people find leadership within themselves".
Only then, Zohar says, can performance - in the recovering economy - equate to a healthy and sustainable bottom line.
The 12 elements of spiritual intelligence
According to Zohar, there are 12 "transformative principles" in the development of corporate spiritual intelligence.
self awareness - "knowing who we are and what we serve." Knowing why we're in the business and what the business's values are;
spontaneity - "meeting people and problems as they present themselves to you now." Living in the moment, "dropping the baggage" of the past and embracing new solutions and strategies;
vision and values - knowing there is something "worth living and fighting for" and that the business is capable of more;
holistic view - "realising that absolutely everything is interconnected." Seeing that the business is part of the "global condition" and accepting responsibility for its problems;
diversity - celebrating and looking for difference, getting out of our comfort zones, questioning ourselves to "grow our brains", and creating infrastructures in business where "everyone is listened to and taken seriously";
independence - standing up and saying what we believe in and being willing to be unpopular;
humility - understanding there are things that can be learnt from others, and "giving ourselves up to what we can do for others and the world";
deep questions - asking why things couldn't be better. "Becoming like children with their insatiable why, why, why?"
reframing - broadening the picture, and transforming the business's role in society from making money for shareholders to creating wealth for the community. "It is HR's role to create a culture like this inside the company";
use of adversity - "rising from the ashes";
compassion - feeling the pain and joy of others as we feel our own. "We are not just our brother's keeper, we are our brother"; and
sense of vocation - having the sense that we are "called to do this", and that the function of the business matters.
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