Conscious Capitalism | Book Review

John Mackay and Raj Sisodia have written a book, which answers the fundamental question: Can a company be ethical and survive, much less thrive? The book tells the story of Whole Earth’s founder, John Mackey, who grew up skeptical of businesses and found through his own entrepreneurial experience that business has unlimited potential for personal and organizational growth. A refreshing, welcome read.

The four tenets of Conscious Capitalism (figure 2-1 – page 34): higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership and conscious culture and management are captured in an elegant schematic. The second tenet, Stakeholder Integration, chapters 5 – 12, comprises the core of the book. Chapter 13 distills the heart of the third tenet, conscious culture. The fourth tenet, conscious culture and management, is the weakest portion of the book and may be skimmed.

Thoughts on Purpose: The Corporation’s Search for Meaning (first tenet)

Mackey and Sisodia’s title borrows from Victor Frankl’s seminal Man’s Search for Meaning, and the chapter persuasively argues organizations must declare purpose before strategy. This corresponds very well to our Focus and Alignment approach, as well as releasing our energy through understanding of our multi-dimensional profiles. Gallup team member findings on page 54 (28% engaged, 53% indifferent, and 19% hostile) are valuable, and likewise validate Dan Pink’s purpose-driven organizational findings. The last section, Matching Individual Passions with Business Purpose is an excellent example of applied Energize2Lead principles.

Thoughts on Collaborative, Innovative Suppliers:

Chapter 8 is a treasure – and challenges traditional adversarial practices such as General Motor’s abusive treatment of suppliers (often rewarded by Wall Street). An entire book could be written about potential competitive advantage created by values centered supplier relationships. POSCO, the South Korean company highlighted on page 118, is a great example of positive, collaborative stakeholder relationships. Every Academy Leadership affiliate should seek genuinely collaborative partnerships while growing our respective businesses.

Thoughts on The Qualities of Conscious Leaders:

Chapter 13 provides an excellent explanation of Why Leadership Matters. The descriptions of analytical, emotional, and spiritual and systems intelligence correspond tightly with Energize2Lead and Leader’s Compass materials. This chapter is a great reference for a Leadership Boot Camp or Leadership Excellence Course. In short, the chapter challenges the reader to “go deep” emotionally as a servant leader.

A highly recommended book we should share with our clients.

JE | February 2013