By Fred Tsao and Chris Laszlo. Aug 21, 2019
Quantum Leadership: New Consciousness in Business (2019) explores the practices of leaders who are deeply connected to others and the world around them. The extraordinary convergence of quantum science and spirituality is now bringing to light the power of such practices to transform a leader’s entrepreneurial creativity, leading to greater effectiveness and more global responsibility. These two outcomes are at the heart of the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative’s (GRLI) call for deep systemic change in how we live and make a living, how we learn, and how we lead.
Based on multi-year research, the authors show convincingly how transforming consciousness is the highest point of leverage for change in complex systems. New insights from quantum physics, quantum biology, neuroscience, and epigenetics, combined with the advent of positive psychology and new frameworks in economics that put people and earth first, are turning upside-down the foundations of leadership.
Experiencing their lives as deeply connected — mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually — changes how leaders think and act. It strengthens their entrepreneurial creativity in turbulent times while simultaneously increasing adaptive skills based on empathy and compassion. It changes who people are being, not only what they are doing.
Amplifying business as a force-for-good
The journey to higher consciousness is essential for any entrepreneur or manager intent on making a profit while serving humankind. Quantum Leadership is about cultivating consciousness to celebrate the creation of life. This kind of entrepreneurship and business creativity expands the scope of possibilities for our common future. Efforts to cut carbon emissions, reduce workplace accidents, and minimize social harm are important but they are not enough. The challenge for business people is to make a positive impact on their community and the environment. Only positive impacts contribute to flourishing, defined here as a world in which businesses prosper, people experience wellbeing, and nature thrives.
Drawing on multiple Theories of Change
Over fifty years ago a team of researchers published a paper on general strategies for change in human systems (Chin and Benne 1967). They proposed three Theories of Change (ToCs) that they considered universally generalizable. The first was called empirical-rational based on the assumption that humans are rational and that they follow their self-interest. It corresponds to the business case for sustainability in which social projects are undertaken only when there is a positive return-on-investment. The second was labelled normative-re-educative based on socio-cultural norms, values, and attitudes to which individuals commit themselves. The third was power-coercive which requires compliance of those with less power to the plans and directions of those with greater power.
Unfortunately in the 52 years since its publication, none of these ToCs have proved effective, either individually or collectively, in transforming business into an agent of world benefit. Business efforts to be socially responsible, based on the three ToCs, have helped companies minimize their negative impacts and, in limited cases, do good. But they have not created prosperity for the majority of people in countries where income inequality is continuing to worsen. They are not solving major environmental problems such as the continued rise in carbon emissions or the rapid rate of species extinctions. They are not contributing to health and well-being, as evidenced by annual surveys showing high-levels of disengagement and stress in the workplace.
Adding a fourth Theory of Change
Tsao and Laszlo suggest a fourth strategy for change. Called direct-intuitive, it is anchored in practices that offer people a direct experience of wholeness. Such practices quiet the analytic mind and expand our consciousness so that we are more aware of the essential oneness of reality. Also referred to as connectedness practices, they encompass both eastern and western forms of mindfulness. They include meditation, walking in nature, art and aesthetics, gardening, appreciative inquiry, physical exercise, and journaling, among countless others. Adding one or more such practice(s) on a daily basis can strengthen a person’s learning journey and elevate his or her consciousness with creativity and resilience.
When we begin to see ourselves as deeply connected in the world, we become more coherent in ourselves and in our interactions with others and with all forms of life. The experience of wholeness and connectedness is the foundation for altering a person’s behavior and decision-making in business as in life.
The purpose of management becomes to be a force-for-good, as leaders experience their lives and the lives of their organizations as relational rather than as ego-centered. The goal becomes to create prosperity for all and to contribute to a healthy environment and improved wellbeing. This is very different from current management goals of business strategies which, in practice, are often limited to reducing ecological footprints and minimizing social harm.
Tsao and Laszlo are not suggesting that this fourth ToC should be used to the exclusion of the other three. Instead, they argue that, for the “new normal” to become business as a force-for-good, we need all four ToCs: rational-empirical, normative-reeducative, power-coercive, and directive-intuitive. The inner transformation of business leaders toward wholeness and connectedness and the outer transformation of business toward sustainable value are both needed.
The time is now for a revolution in leadership. Its tremendous appeal comes from being able to create economic value consistent with greater purpose. It comes at a time when the world is facing many challenges — sustainability, globalization, and myriad technological developments that will change our lives in ways that we cannot predict. Businesses can play a key role in overcoming them with a new generation of quantum leaders at the helm.
Frederick Chavalit Tsao is the Chairman of IMC Pan Asia Alliance Group and founder of Octave. Under his stewardship, IMC evolved from a traditional shipping business to one that has presence in more than 17 countries and businesses in integrated supply chains, lifestyle, investments and community development. Octave is a learning platform to help people find clarity, harmony, and a new level of consciousness and freedom.
Chris Laszlo, PhD, is Professor of Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University, where he researches and teaches flourishing enterprise. He is author of Flourishing Enterprise (2014), Embedded Sustainability (2011), and Sustainable Value (2008), all from Stanford University Press. Chris is also the managing partner of Sustainable Value Partners, LLC, a sustainability strategy consulting firm he co-founded in 2002.