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Sean: I want to know, why do you say your mission is to help companies? Not just become very profitable, which is already great, but also become compassionate with their stakeholders?
And the implicit here is I’m wondering, you’re talking to directors, you’re talking to C-level executives and you tell them, you have to be compassionate. I can see some pushback there. Maybe they’re wondering like, how is this going to affect our bottom line? How is this going to affect our branding? I’m sure that you have faced these pushbacks. How do you deal with them?
Bruno: That’s true, I have faced a lot of resistance from CEOs, directors, from managers, and they told me ‘what matters in business is profit.’ But what I am talking about is compassion – compassion sounds a bit soft. Of course, we have to achieve objectives that are quantifiable, that can be measured up, can be counted. For example, profit, market share, sales. And yes, I told them that the quantitative aspects of business are important. What can be measured? What can be counted? But a very famous thinker once said – “not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts”.
So we have to understand that there are qualitative aspects of the business, and those are the things that cannot be measured. For example, compassion, empathy, support, care, and generosity. And I told these leaders that business is about human beings. You cannot succeed without human beings. I’m paraphrasing a very famous thinker – “No company is an Island.”
No company can succeed on its own. Companies – taking into account the famous management guru, Stephen Covey – “companies are interdependent”. They depend on suppliers. They depend on employees. They depend on community members. They depend on the customer. So when a company treats all the stakeholders, individuals, and groups with interest in our organization in a compassionate way. According to a social psychology principle which is the law of reciprocity -when you treat others in a compassionate way, they tend to support you in return. On the flip side, when you treat them in a very non-compassionate way, they tend to withdraw. They tend not to cooperate. They tend to choose other companies. Employees will try to look for other job opportunities. Customers will look for other companies.
Some CEOs do understand this, because there is a new generation of CEOs, obviously much younger CEOs that are much more open-minded. And they understand that when you care for people when you treat people in a very compassionate way, you generate what I call and observe – an approach of emotional intelligence.
You are not only recognizing your own emotion and expressing them overtly, but you are being compassionate. You’re being caring with others and others tend to act in return – in the same way, in a reciprocal way. So this is very important because the building block of any business is the people behind and beyond it.
I always tell my clients that we have to ask ourselves very important questions. Is this business decision going to benefit all the stakeholders that are related directly or indirectly to our company? If not, we have to rethink that decision because it’s not compassionate.
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