Conscious Capitalism, Conscious Business, and Conscious Leadership

Extracted 17MAY2011 from

The 20th century witnessed a lengthy battle between polar opposite views of how to organize and regulate economic activity. Although free market capitalism won that epic struggle decisively, it failed to capture the minds of intellectuals and the hearts of citizens. Corporations are probably the most influential institutions in the world today and yet many people do not believe that they can be trusted. Instead corporations are widely perceived as greedy, selfish, exploitative, uncaring - and interested only in maximizing profits.

Conscious Capitalism is a philosophy based on the belief that a more complex form of capitalism is emerging that holds the potential for enhancing corporate performance while simultaneously advancing the quality of life for billions of people. The Conscious Capitalism movement challenges business leaders to re-think why their organizations exist and to acknowledge their company´s role in the interdependent global marketplace.

Today´s best companies get it. From Zappos to Whole Foods, the Container Store to Google: they´re generating every form of value that matters: emotional, social, and financial. And they´re doing it for all their stakeholders. Not because it´s "politically correct"; because it´s the ultimate path to long-term competitive advantage.

Conscious Capitalism differs from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) insofar as Conscious Capitalism is driven naturally and internally from within the company rather than an external notion of what counts as "socially responsible." All too often CSR either amounts to reactive attempts on behalf of corporations to placate NGOs and activists, or proactive public relations efforts that may have little to do with the core functions and culture of their company.

Conscious Capitalists are unapologetic advocates for free markets, entrepreneurship, competition, freedom to trade, property rights, freedom to contract, and the rule of law. They recognize that these are essential elements of a healthy, functioning economy, as are trust, compassion, collaboration, and value-creation.

Per the illustration, Conscious Capitalism can be explored as a whole (the outer circle, which represents the entire system), the organizational view ("Conscious Business," the next circle in) or the individual view ("Conscious Leadership," the inner circle).


Conscious Leadership

To be conscious means to be awake. To lead consciously means to be authentic, to be aware of the implications of one´s decisions, and to maintain an ongoing commitment to learning and personal growth. Conscious Leaders adopt a holistic worldview that moves beyond the limitations of traditional machine metaphors for business. They view their enterprises as part of a complex, interdependent, and evolving system with multiple constituencies. Conscious Leaders see that profit is one of the important purposes of the business, but not the sole purpose. Most importantly, they reject a zero-sum, trade-off oriented view of business and look for creative synergistic win-win approaches that offer multiple kinds of value simultaneously to all stakeholders.

Conscious Business

A Conscious Business is led by Conscious Leadership, adopts a higher purpose that transcends profit maximization, and focuses on delivering value to all of its stakeholders by aligning and harmonizing the interests of employees, customers, suppliers, the community, and shareholders. Additionally, a Conscious Business distinguishes itself from a traditional business through its culture. The acronym TACTILE (Trust, Authenticity, Caring, Transparency, Integrity, Learning and Empowerment) is used to describe the culture of a Conscious Business. The word tactile means something that can be touched and felt. When a person walks into a Conscious Business, they can actually feel the positive energy in the air.

Conscious Capitalism

Conscious Leaders will want to extend their focus beyond Conscious Businesses ultimately to a concern for the capitalist system as a whole and the society within which capitalism functions. Thus Conscious Capitalism is capitalism that is conscious of its power to create a world that works for all by promoting the development of a capitalist legal and cultural ecosystem within which profitability increasingly tracks contribution to human prosperity and environmental sustainability. Conscious Capitalists advance the development of a fully Conscious Society by supporting improvements in the extent to which we move towards Conscious Culture, Conscious Governance, Conscious Human Development, Conscious Activism and Politics, Conscious Civil Society, Conscious Media, Conscious Intellectual Leadership, etc.