Below is an Intro I wrote to a small ebook on the idea of a “Chief Morale Officer”
There is a quiet revolution happening in business. I see it everywhere—a growing recognition that the fortunes of any organization are intimately and irrevocably tied to the quality and aptitude of the people who work within it. In today’s knowledge economy that is truer than ever. Indeed, the wellbeing, happiness, creative capacity, and overall commitment level of the individuals in your organization—in a word, their morale—will have as much to say about the success of any business as a good idea or a great product. People matter. And it’s not just employees and team members, but also customers, suppliers, investors, community members, and every other stakeholder in a business ecosystem. Their morale is intimately tied to your success. That’s been my experience and it’s certainly the message of the contributors in these pages. Call it Conscious Capitalism, Stakeholder Capitalism, Conscious Leadership—by whatever name, it’s about doing business as if the quality of all of our lives truly mattered.
The dark cloud of the coronavirus is a temporary calamity, without question, but it’s also an opportunity. Stressful times create openings for evolution. As business after business comes under pressure during this time, we must focus on doing what business does better than any other institution in our society: innovate and create value. We need to create, build, develop, and invent new ways of serving our customers and our communities. But let’s not limit innovation to a product or service; let it include how we relate to all of our stakeholders. Indeed, if leaders, are going to makes the most of this unique moment, we have to adopt a more expansive mindset about the purpose of business. Amid the overwhelming concerns of this moment, we have to think more carefully, more deeply, and more creatively about the people around us who make everything possible.
In the middle of crisis, it can be easy to react, retrench, and retract. Focus on ourselves. Put our attention on survival. And of course, sometimes we have to do everything we can just to make ends meet. But conscious leaders understand that a moment such as this demands much more. That can’t be the final story—not if we are going to thrive over the long term. Can we open our hearts to a larger perspective? Are we taking care of our team members? Are we connected to them? Are we laser-focused on their success, health, and wellbeing, even amid all of the disruptions? Are we providing the right support? Are we putting in place the infrastructure they need to thrive? Are we leading with love and a fostering sense of community? Are we inspiring them and challenging them to think creatively in this unique moment? Love, care, support, inspiration, challenge—these are not just buzzwords or platitudes. They are the very real needs of people every workday.
Chief Morale Officer (CMO) is a position that is gaining in popularity today, in part because of the recognition that more needs to be done on this front. It represents more than a job title. It signifies an attitude of leadership, a way of attuning to the needs of the people in your business ecosystem. You’ll find from the contributors in these pages a hundred practical ideas that a CMO can implement. And perhaps most important, you’ll find one big question asked of business leaders of all stripes. Are you empowering a Chief Morale Officer (CMO), or some equivalent role, to give their full attention to the empowerment and well being of people in your organization? This ebook is a roadmap for helping leaders to do exactly that.
No organization will be the same on the other side of this event horizon. Heck, capitalism itself may not be the same. Periods of crisis are like cultural strainers; not everything that goes in one end will come out the other. So what will emerge on the other side of this pandemic? Luckily, we will have a say in the answer to that question.
Not all business is good. But make no mistake, business can be damn good. Not all leaders are wise, but the best ones inspire almost everyone they touch. Not all ships will make it through the flood, but the ones that do will carry the seeds of a new world. Let’s make sure those seeds contain the DNA of our best selves. Let’s double down on our people. Ultimately, their success will be ours.