Incorporating A Heart-Centered Approach to Business

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Heart (the non-biological definitions)

1. The center of the total personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling, or emotion: In your heart you know I’m an honest man.
2. The center of emotion, especially as contrasted to the head as the center of the intellect: His head told him not to fall in love, but his heart had the final say.
3. Capacity for sympathy; feeling; affection: His heart moved him to help those less fortunate.
4. Spirit, courage, or enthusiasm: His heart sank when he walked into the room and saw their faces.
5. The innermost or central part of anything: Notre Dame stands in the very heart of Paris.
6. The vital or essential part; core: the heart of the matter.

Think about that. The key words:
• Center of the total personality… emotion
• Capacity for feeling
• Spirit, courage, enthusiasm
• Innermost, central, essential part
• Vital, core
Babacita heart
Why would any organization not want this front and center, leading the charge? It’s a huge differentiator from your competition. It’s unique to you. It’s the DNA that makes up your organization. Use it!

In working with clients on branding activities, the typical approach is to identify the brand assets. Things like sophistication, customer-centric, complex integrator, etc. This is all definitely part of it, but what is missing most of the time is the heart of the organization. Not the nuts and bolts, but true passion and fire behind those nuts and bolts. The heart. That is where the true power lies.

Like so many aspects of organization, it comes from the top. The leadership must possess heart as opposed to an old-school command and control management style.

Many years ago I had the privilege of working with Fred Keller, Founder and CEO of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Cascade Engineering. An amazing entrepreneur who has built his business based on purpose and heart, Keller lives by a simple checklist that supports his values:

• Do all the good you can
• By all the means you can
• In all the ways you can
• In all the places you can
• At all the times you can
• To all the people you can
• As long as ever you can

That is what a heart-centered approach is all about. This has stuck with me over the years and is coming through my work, loud and clear. This beautiful heart-centered approach that is beneficial on so many levels.

One organization that I am honored to be a part of, as one of ten certified consultants globally, is WorldBlu, which leads this organizational evolution. WorldBlu’s purpose is to elevate the human spirit through organizational democracy and freedom-centered leadership.

WorldBlu’s 10 Principles of Organizational Democracy:

1. Purpose & Vision
2. Transparency
3. Dialogue & Listening
4. Accountability
5. Choice
6. Individual & Collective
7. Fairness & Dignity
8. Integrity
9. Decentralization
10. Reflection & Evaluation

The essence of heart. It shines through in so many ways – loyalty, productivity, talent attraction and retention, creativity and innovation, customer preference, community and the bottom line. It’s the right thing to do and organizations are moving towards this direction. It’s a necessity for long-term growth and sustainability.

Another example of heart is the increasing number of organizations instituting a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach to their business. If you’re not familiar with TBL, it’s an expanded spectrum of values and criteria for measuring organizational (and societal) success. Economic, ecological, and social. Each of those items weighted equally, this framework applies responsibility to the organization’s stakeholders (anyone who is influenced, either directly or indirectly, by the actions of the organization).

The economic (or profit) portion of the TBL
• This is the economic value created or real economic impact the organization has on its economic environment.

The ecological (or planet) portion
• This refers to the sustainable environmental practices. This endeavor reduces its ecological footprint, by among other things, carefully managing its consumption of energy and non-renewables and reducing manufacturing waste as well as rendering waste less toxic before disposing of it in a safe manner.

The social (or people) portion
• This pertains to fair and beneficial business practices toward labor and the community and region in which an organization conducts business. This also seeks to “give back” by contributing to the strength and growth of its community with such things as health care, education and additional employment opportunities. So by instituting the TBL practice, firms often, on an annual basis, publish their TBL Report, which includes the metrics and impact they are making in the economic, ecological and social sectors of their organizational footprint. Not only does this hold them accountable, but it also gives them year-over-year metrics for continuous improvement.

The Triple Bottom Line approach. Yet another example of heart in business.

Heart is here and is becoming more and more significant each day.

Where to start?

So the first part to this equation, really the most challenging part, is to determine what is your organizations heart?

Let’s look at those heart keywords again
• Center of the total personality… emotion
• Capacity for feeling
• Spirit, courage, enthusiasm
• Innermost, central, essential part
• Vital, core

To determine the heart of an organization is a similar process to that of an individual, just much more complex. It should start with the leadership team but also needs to include every member of the organization, since they are the blood, which keeps the heart pumping. It’s really about assembling the core values of each of the employees. What do they stand for? What makes them tick? Then from there it’s an exercise of organizing those attributes into groupings to boil it down to the collective values. This is done through a variety of techniques that act as checks and balances to one another. Simple lists and text-based content assembly is the starting point. Once that is initially drafted, I suggest incorporating word clouds and mind mapping. By looking at the same information from varying perspectives, the heart will become apparent after revisions and continual massaging. It will go on like a light bulb. When you get there, you will know. When you do, communicate and incorporate your heart in every single employee and customer touchpoint. From the receptionist answering the phone or greeting visitors to customer service, to HR interviewing a potential employee, sales, marketing, production, finance – every place a customer or employee is touched, makes sure your heart is there shining through. It will not go unnoticed.

I challenge you to identify your organization’s heart and then to use it.

By making a conscious effort to make your organization’s heart front and center, you will see the difference personally and enterprise-wide. Your employees will benefit, your customers and suppliers will benefit, your community will benefit. You will make a difference on so many more levels.

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