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The Tripod of Future Leadership

An attempt to explore the three key attributes of effective CEOs of the Future, and how these could help achieve not only the triple bottom line relating to profits, social betterment and ecological responsibility, but also the "triple top line" of joy, peace and satisfaction, in their personal lives.

Ravi Chaudhry

The Tripod of Future Leadership
An attempt to explore the three key attributes of effective CEOs of the Future, and how these could help achieve not only the triple bottom line relating to profits, social betterment and ecological responsibility, but also the "triple top line" of joy, peace and satisfaction, in their personal lives.

Ravi Chaudhry

Distinguished Leaders of Future500 corporations,

I speak today, from my conscience, directly to your conscience. We are here because we all share the same vision - to re-align ourselves and our companies, in a new direction, one that would add a new meaning to all our thoughts, words and acts, and help us make a difference to the world we live in. A difference for the better, not merely for today – but also for tomorrow.

Exercising our Right to make the right Choices

Leadership is about making choices – the right choices. We are fortunate to be among the chosen few in this world – who have (a) the means to scan and recognize the array of available choices at each juncture, and (b) the authority and ability to make a conscious choice.

In our role as corporate leaders, making the right choice is not merely a philosophical exercise; it is a matter of survival for the human race. The irony is that often, we do not even realize we have the choice. Equally often, one is unconsciously driven by the mechanical process of pre-determined thoughts. How to go beyond the traditional constraints of past experience, majority view, and beaten-track syndrome? How to see what is visible, but not easily seen? How to hear what is audible, but not easily heard? How to amplify the weak signals?

This is the challenge – the challenge of transition from today’s capitalist, material world of Fortune500 to the new era of Future500. This transition hinges on exercising our right to make the right choices. We must not forget that the right to choose is life’s greatest gift to our species.

What could be the obstacles? The popular perception is that business objectives and society’s needs tend to be like the two tracks of a railway line. Looking ahead from any point, they appear to converge in the distance; in reality, they never do. Do we accept this state of affairs, or is there a glimmer of hope to bring business processes in alignment with societal growth? It is not easy. It calls for not merely a change in thinking, but a complete transformation in how business functions.

The Concept of Triple Top Line

Fortunately, those who decide to explore this path could discover pleasant surprises all along the route. The starting point of the quest is the Future500 model of three core principles: profits, social betterment and ecological responsibility. Not one at the cost of others – but all together. In equal measure, with same priority. It is a captivating journey of reflection – as we discover our own convictions that it is indeed in our interest, to pursue these objectives –referred to as the “triple bottom line”.

Those who embrace this belief, claim that this leads to a “triple top line” in their personal lives – it gives them joy, peace and satisfaction. Not only for them, but also in the personal lives of all around. It generates self-worth and confidence, it is not ego-friendly and that makes one fearless. The result is that you experience an incredible energy. I have not known anyone who regretted making this change. On the other hand, I have heard them say why they did not adopt this posture earlier.

Tripod of Future Leadership

To achieve the corporate triple bottom line and the personal triple top line, I envisage the need for a new tripod of future leadership. Like in any tripod, all three legs have to be equal, and also equally strong. Otherwise, the tripod will collapse. Leaders who have traversed the arduous path to become the CEOs of their organizations normally possess the usual attributes such as, intelligence, energy, professional will, and ability to build teams, set goals and lead. I am therefore not including such characteristics in the new tripod.

All three traits of Future Leadership pertain to the mind of the leader. The world is in our minds. If the mind changes, the world changes. As Nelson Mandela said “We are not afraid of our weaknesses. We are afraid of our strengths.” Therefore, the key trigger to understand and imbibe these traits is to keep aside our strengths for a while, and then make an earnest assessment of our limitations.

The first trait in the tripod is the trait of “wholeness” – a holistic overview of the entirety of issues, a detached observation of the all-inclusive environment. It emanates from the keenness to connect with the other viewpoints, outside one’s usual decision-tree. The motivation to do so comes from a genuine interest in taking cognizance of all relevant concerns, and aims at seeking justice, goodness, truth and reality.

Konrad Adenauer once said, “We all live under the same sky, but see different horizons”. Seeking “wholeness” calls for looking beyond the known horizons, developing new mind-set, and re-tuning all input-faculties. Whenever one takes a decision, one has a picture in mind. Wholeness is about creating a bigger picture before taking the decision. That happens when one is willing to go beyond the familiar terrain, and learn what one does not already know. It is about connecting with the unconnected, and being mindful of how everyone else would be affected by your decision.

Wholeness is all-inclusive. One sees it all around us, in nature, and in self-regulated operating systems in biology and ecology. The experience of wholeness manifests systems thinking and synergy, and fortifies the forces of harmony in living systems and nature. In the final analysis, this trait enables one to create unity in diversity, and celebrate oneness of the world.

The second trait is “Compassion”. In simple terms, compassion is a feeling of unconditional concern and love for others, with a sense of responsibility, irrespective of whether the other person is a close friend or an enemy, known or unknown. Compassion is tolerance, generosity and humility. It is based not on our own projections and expectations, but on the needs of the others. It emanates from positive thoughts and feelings that give rise to hope, courage, determination and inner strength in others. It is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment. It starts with compassion in heart – that is the first step, and it leads to compassion in action – which is the second step.

True compassion is not merely an emotional response, it is a firm commitment, based on rationale. Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if others behave negatively. It is the only feeling that can remove the self-centered motives that cause people to deceive and misuse one another.
Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only home. If we are to protect our home, each of us needs to experience a vivid sense of universal altruism – best expressed through compassion.
The third trait is the “Balance” – balance between Wholeness and Compassion. Balance between so many diverse, conflicting demands and signals. “Balance” leads to a seamless integration of opposing views. It acknowledges the existence of seemingly irreconcilable extreme positions, and yet succeeds in discovering an acceptable posture, which is an integrated solution to meet the triple bottom line criteria of corporate profitability, economic and community justice, and ecological sustainability.

“Balance” in one’s thinking acts as a great healer. It heals the conflicts of the mind, splits between inner and outer considerations, spiritual and material values and individual and community interests. It manifests itself as integration within self, integration with community and nature, and a synthesis of diverse views and traditions. As Confucious said “Balance is the perfect state of still water. Let that be our model. It remains quiet within and is not disturbed on the surface”.

Tripod Traits in Action

Armed with the troika of this fundamental personal value system, the faculty of choice imbibes a hitherto unknown conviction of strength; a universal consciousness starts to influence our thoughts.
Such leaders are at peace with themselves, and at peace with the world.
They look outwards for wholeness, and inwards for compassion.
They do not create self-doubts; they find the balance.
They contribute; they make the world better.

Once we have accepted these values to live by, it is then a gradual process, in psychologists’ language, to internalize them. They then become our virtues. Once that happens, there is no turning back, as human virtues are considered the highest aspiration for humanity. Virtues are more basic than values and all cultures honour virtues.

We expect that the Future500 CEOs, through their personal example, coupled with their sustainable corporate success, will herald a new era. Current emphasis on material wealth creation will be replaced by the “troika of integral wealth creation” – with three equally strong components: material wealth, community wealth, and inner wealth in oneself and in others.

Humans spend all their lives preparing, preparing, preparing -----, now is the time for action. The key task is to direct our minds and thoughts to wholeness, compassion and balance, leading to ethical leadership. It is difficult, because it is so easy.

Difficult - because one has to realize this oneself, through oneself.
Spiritually, it is realizing self through self.
Easy, because it is like touching the tip of the right hand finger
with the tip of the left hand finger.

And then the world becomes ONE. This is our mission, and we need to resolve together that we are going to achieve it.

Copyright: Ravi Chaudhry, Chairman Cemex Consulting Group, India. 2005 Phone: +91.11.2616 5406









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