Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

Posted July 1, 2015 in Leadership, What We're Reading

Co-written by: Whole Foods Market Co-Founder John Mackey and Professor Raj Sisodia

Review by: Glain Roberts-McCabe

The Premise: Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business attempts to reimagine capitalism in a more humane and cooperative way. Through stories and examples from well-known and successful companies – Google, UPS, Zappos, Costco, etc. – the authors present a defense of capitalism. Instead of the image of a greedy, destructive machine that creates economic barriers and reinforces class systems, Mackey and Sisodia assert that capitalism – when executed in a more conscious way – enriches lives and can create value for all stakeholders (not just shareholders and senior management). The book reframes capitalism under this new lens and introduces the four tenets that can help build a strong business benefitting all. The tenets are explored at length and include: higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management. Complementary philosophies are also approached and a business case is made to reinforce the idea. Mackey shares several personal examples from his Whole Foods journey throughout the book, along with theories and wisdom from a variety of business and leadership thinkers that have obviously influenced his own journey.

The Bottom-line: I think this book is an important read for leaders at all levels but particularly leaders who may feel that the current work system is broken and who are feeling at a loss around how they can fix it. Certainly, Conscious Capitalism as a business concept needs to be led from the top and, as John Mackey has done at Whole Foods, when the CEO is on board, so goes the company. But for leaders who find themselves multi-layers below, the chapters on conscious leadership and conscious culture and management will provide them with ideas that they can execute regardless of the view from the top of the house. Generally, I believe we are entering a huge time of reinvention at work for the simple reason that what we are currently doing simply isn’t sustainable. As leaders, we are the only ones who can change the game in our organizations. Personal growth and becoming a more conscious leader is our choice and our choice alone. Conscious Capitalism provides some very real actions that any individual can take to move themselves further down the path of self-insight and conscious leadership. After all, if we don’t try to make things different, who will?

Roundtable Rating: Necessary read for anyone in a leadership role but particularly important for those in companies where the drive for profit is burning out your people.

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