ILMA Compoundings - April 2020 - 31

the immediate planning horizon of
the company's incumbent leaders -
usually just a few years. In just the last
hundred years, we have permanently
eliminated more than half the species
on the planet and decimated the
numbers of many that remain by up to
95%. By any reasonable accounting,
such conduct would be considered
grossly irresponsible, even criminally
negligent. In some Native American
tribes, tribal chiefs were expected to
consider the consequences of their
decisions on the next seven generations - approximately 200 years.
How many business leaders even look
seven years out? How can we defend
such extreme myopia, such wanton
disregard for the world that our own
children and their children will inherit?
Interface Carpet founder and CEO
Ray Anderson used to address his fellow CEOs by starting with the phrase,
"My fellow plunderers." He would
go on to suggest that if there was real
justice in the world, he and his fellow
business leaders would be imprisoned
for what they had knowingly done to
our fragile ecosystem.

4

Do it without causing any
harm anywhere to anybody
or anything. Profit is a social good.

We need profits to create a healthy
society that works for all. Without
profits, there are no taxes, and without
taxes, there is no infrastructure, no
social safety net, no social mobility,
no national security and so on. It
is socially irresponsible not to be
profitable; the capital such businesses
use could be better invested elsewhere
to generate a reasonable return.

However, it matters a great deal how
we make the money. If a business
does so by squeezing employees,
suppliers, customers, communities,
the environment or future generations,
then it is not truly a business. Real
businesses create new and incremental value. A business that generates
profits for investors by squeezing other
stakeholders is not a business, it is a
parasite; it is worth less than nothing.
Such businesses do not deserve to
exist. They make the world a worse
place; their absence would enrich us.

5

Don't settle for being
sustainable; seek to heal
and restore all the systems
you are part of. Too much in our

world is broken, eroding, melting away,
becoming less vibrant and generative
over time. Our soil, our air, our oceans,
our ground, our fellow life forms - all
are suffering grievous harm. If we settle
for being "sustainable," all we are aiming
for is the ability to keep doing what
we are doing indefinitely. That is not
enough. We can and must reverse the
declines that are all around. The highest
and noblest calling is to heal all that we
touch, to truly leave everything better
for us having been here. This is no utopian ideal. There are numerous examples
of companies and nongovernmental
organizations that have done this. People
cannot flourish if the systems they are
embedded in are not also flourishing.
All forms of life and all physical systems
must be healthy and flourishing for
human beings to be truly flourishing.

6

Define leadership as stewardship. Most "leaders" today are

primarily motivated by the accumulation of personal power and wealth.
They use other people to achieve their
personal goals of accumulating wealth
and power. Such individuals are not,
in fact, leaders at all; that is the very
definition of a tyrant! To become more
powerful and wealthy, they make the
people they lead less powerful and

wealthy (in all the dimensions of that
word, as discussed earlier). True leaders
are those who seek to take people to a
better place. They accept the awesome
responsibility of leadership: to craft
a compelling and inspiring vision of
where we can collectively go and to
devise a strategy for getting there by
harnessing everyone's capacities in the
most effective way. They lead through
service to the shared purpose of the
enterprise and to the people whose
lives they touch. These are the kinds of
leaders we must have in the world in
every sphere of life.

7

Always remember (as Herb
Kelleher said): "The business of business is people." It is

not about anything else. Everything
else should be considered a means to
that end: the flourishing and holistic
well-being of people. Calvin Coolidge
said, "The business of America is business." This would be fine, except that the
common interpretation of that phrase is
"making as much money as possible."

8

Never sacrifice a higher value
for a lower value. Just as there

is a "hierarchy of needs" (Maslow)
for humans, there also needs to be a
"hierarchy of values" that society agrees
to and operates under. I would suggest
that the highest value is to promote
flourishing and alleviate suffering,
starting with humans but including all
forms of life. Under a traditional interpretation of capitalism, profit is the
highest value; the well-being of human
beings is somewhere well down the list,
and the well-being of other species is so
far down as to be an irrelevancy. Hence
we have terrible and unsafe working

31



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