"Developing a conscious culture is a business imperative," argues Fred Kofman in his book Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Values. A conscious culture consists of shared goals, beliefs, and values that are communicated to the employees to educate them on how they are expected to behave. Leaders' behavior plays a critical role in guiding the team and sending them a message of what behavior is and is not acceptable and whether or not employees get to experience meaningful work.
When an organization enables its employees to do meaningful work, coming to work becomes more than just about making money. Employees experience joy and feel proud of their contribution. As individuals confront challenging new responsibilities, they develop skills and grow personally and professionally.
How can someone tell if they are doing meaningful work? They feel fully absorbed when they are working. Time seems to stop, and they experience a sense of flow where "difficulties become creative challenges." Individuals feel in control because they trust themselves to solve problems skillfully. While they might be working alone, they do not feel lonely. They get a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves – a community of people who work with purpose.
A conscious leader evokes the spirit of pursuing a common vision, cooperating with each other, holding common values, and expressing mutual support and respect. When employees experience alignment between their behavior and their values, they act with integrity, which Kofman defines as "the adherence to a code of values." Heracleitus reinforces the importance of integrity: "Your integrity is your destiny. It is the light that guides your way." Anyone can choose to act with integrity as long as they can control their own behavior.
Kofman emphasizes that what we call a good life is associated with integrity, rather than with material success. Success is an outcome of a journey that takes a long time and includes factors that are beyond our control. Success is in the future, while integrity is immediate. We choose how we act and whether those actions are in alignment with our values. Integrity has a much wider application than success. Success is often focused on the short-term, whereas integrity is about long-term results.
Companies do not exist to optimize short-term speed and efficiency. Team members must remember their common ground to maintain effective interpersonal relationships, share information, and ensure the highest performance. Kofman writes: "If you engage in business consciously, you never forget that business success is not the goal. Business success is a means toward your happiness. You do business to live (happily), you don't live to do business."
We typically do not consider happiness when we think about work, but as Aristotle indicated, happiness is the "highest good." Happiness is the ultimate goal of human life. When we seek money, power, or prestige, we do it because we think they will make us happy. Psychologists have found six universal behaviors that lead to happiness: wisdom, love, courage, temperance, justice, and transcendence. To do business consciously, we have to enact these universal behaviors. Kofman concludes, "Happiness comes from integrity rather than success, from behavior in alignment with essential values rather than winning or losing."