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The Evolution of the Modern Workplace: Organizational Opportunities for the New Talent and Development Landscape

The Evolution of the Modern Workplace: Organizational Opportunities for the New Talent and Development Landscape

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management-leadership-traits-By Rhonda S. Ellis, DBA
Faculty Member, School of Business, at American Public University

Over the last several years, corporate, nonprofit and other industries have begun to experience a transformational shift in culture expectations and attitudes across the generational spectrum of their workforce. There is increasing demand for workplaces that equally value and focus on people, planet and profits and for leaders who understand that everything is connected.

Millennials and the generation following them want to know that the work they are doing is meaningful and contributes to a higher purpose. Some GenXers and late baby boomers also express the same desire to do more than just show up. Maybe the reason for the desires throughout multiple generations is that the way we are working is not really working.

An American Public University panel of experts at the Human Capital Institute’s Learning & Leadership Development Conference in Chicago will discuss practices and models for leadership to evaluate and then develop organizational cultures that could yield higher performance and more engaging workplaces, which would then result in satisfied employees and more organizational productivity. Panelists include Tatiana Sehring, director, Corporate & Strategic Relationships and Editor and Contributor of Inspire; Gregory A. Ketchum, Ph.D., principal, TalentPlanet®; and Dr. Rhonda Ellis, faculty in the School of Business at American Public University.

One new organizational behavior theory and practice that will be discussed was Conscious Capitalism®, birthed by John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods and several other CEOs who view capitalism as a force for economic and social good. The four guiding pillars of Conscious Capitalism are:

  • Higher Purpose – focusing on a deeper purpose than profit.
  • Conscious Culture – values, principles and practices that take in consideration their social impact and build trust among team members and stakeholders.
  • Conscious Leadership – focusing on transformation through leadership and serving the purpose of the organization by creating value for all stakeholders involved

Stakeholder Orientation – recognizing the whole business ecosystem and engaging employees, customers, suppliers, funders and supportive communities for sustainability and resilience. An authentic leadership style of being real and transparent and having a sense of consciousness or self-awareness is the leadership style that is paired best with the Conscious Capitalism culture. To be able to really engage employees, leaders must self-evaluate their behaviors and act in ways that consider ethical values as they focus on providing value to all stakeholders involved. Leaders who take on these authentic practices could find themselves soaring with a greater sense of purpose and profits.

Raj Sisodia, co-author of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, conducted research on what he calls “firms of endearment” for their acts of recognition, value, admiration, and even love for their employees. Companies such as Whole Foods, Costco, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Panera Bread, Nordstrom, Toms, Patagonia, etc. financially outperformed the S&P 500 by 14 times and Good to Great Companies by six times over a period of 15 years by practicing from a spirit of passion and purpose, not cash.

Conscious Capitalism principles are more easily integrated when a leader leads with emotional intelligence (EI) versus a solitary intelligence quotient (IQ). Daniel Goleman defined EI as the ability to recognize and understand personal moods and emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others. Operating from self and organizational awareness to build and retain talent (conscious culture), working from a place of meaning and purpose (higher purpose), being open to change and operating from a nonjudgmental state of thinking before acting (conscious leadership), and finding common ground to build rapport and develop diverse teams (stakeholder orientation) are all constructs of EI that blend with the four pillars of Conscious Capitalism. All these concepts are becoming critically important for organizational success and long-term sustainability.

About the Author: Rhonda S. Ellis, DBA, is passionate about the influence of leadership in organizations, particularly with regards to organizational behavior and culture. She enjoys researching organizational behavior and leadership within healthcare organizations. She is a full-time associate professor at American Public University.

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