As many of us adjust to changes at work and in life, we are seeing a new emphasis on human and value-based qualities of leadership. Management teams from corporations to independent businesses are being called to cultivate greater self-awareness as they consider their impact on people and the planet whilst expanding their focus on purpose. Last year, McKinsey expressed how “CEOs are elevating their ‘to be’ lists to the same level as their ‘to do’ lists in order to support and show up for their teams.” At the same time, home working is now around 28-42% of the US labour force with similar trends in Europe. We may have remote meetings and reporting lines that suggest business as usual, but effectively many of us are now called to take self-leadership to a new level in order to perform at our best. In the evolving workplace, heart-based communication, transparency and taking care of the full spectrum of wellbeing from financial to emotional are key to success in business as well as in our own lives.
As a psychologist and life leadership mentor I see how the people and businesses that stand to flourish have a more holistic perspective, seeing everyone and everything as interconnected. Taking responsibility for all aspects of our lives and being examples of what we want to see in the world may well be the positive theme to come out of 2020. A great model for this is omnipreneurship which can act as a true north whilst we search for more sustainable ways of being. There is an emerging global trend of investors choosing to fund companies whose practices align with their personal ethics and value systems. In the same way, an increasing number of people prefer to work in environments where there are meaningful goals as well as profits. These employees want good salaries but also to feel as though they are making a difference.
Omnipreneurs have the intention to think and act with a sense of what’s in it for the whole and realise meaning and success are integral to one another. The entrepreneurial qualities of determination, innovation and the courage to take risks are shared by omnipreneurs. What differentiates is that for the latter, health and humanity are a priority alongside business objectives. This perspective sets the tone for leadership that recognises how a business thrives only when every employee is empowered and that a healthy, happy society is one where everyone has a chance to find and express their own versions of success. One further positive is that the attitude of omnipreneurs allows them to make what seems impossible or unobtainable within reach. A great example comes from spiritual leader Amma. Working with an ethos of ‘heart and mind,’ she and her team have established the prolific NGO, Embracing The World, which since 2004 has given over $75m in fund relief to about forty countries. When the global leader Neste, a Finnish oil-refining firm, took the decision to focus on renewable energy it had massive infrastructure challenges. However, it realised that success included building shared objectives between teams. According to a 2020 consumer survey from Accenture “It’s an imperative for consumers that these (medium to large) businesses care for their employees and customers – and they will judge them if they don’t.” 67% of consumers agree companies “will ‘build back better’ by investing in longer-term, sustainable and fair solutions.” Further back in 2019 their global survey of 30,000 customers found that 62% of them want companies to “take a stand on current and broadly relevant issues like sustainability, transparency or fair employment practices.”
The core principles of an omnipreneurial organisation include supporting a genuine sense of balance. The events of 2020 have led some companies to seek counsel from external wellbeing specialists in order to amplify adaptability. A recent study in Harvard Business Review projected that “the future of work will include a more holistic view of employee wellbeing…emotional, mental and spiritual health of workers along with the physical.” This can be expressed by allowing people to have quality time for their personal lives and therefore achieving a true work/life balance with healthy boundaries. For instance, there are many, especially senior leaders, who feel that working long hours is normal and expected rather than the exception. When all aspects of one’s life are supported people perform at their optimal best and have a chance to be more creative, like incubating new and innovative ideas which will enable them to give back to their workplaces and communities whilst having the space to also focus on themselves.
Omnipreneurship sets the tone for inclusive, evolutionary leadership. When there is a lack of sharing and transparency within companies employees are more likely to feel stress, disengagement and apathy. Some leaders are naturally empathetic and perceptive enough to bring diverse thinkers on board with their vision, whilst others may struggle. The good news is that these skills, even emotional awareness and intuition, can also be learnt. Consciousness is raised when one is given the toolkit to connect with the heart’s intelligence as well as the mind. Considering the decrease in the amount of physical contact people are having, more than ever it is necessary for employers to foster a culture of worth and collaboration amongst team members whilst promoting their independence. Omnipreneurs want all their staff to have the space to think critically and share their unique views. When everyone is moving forwards there is an overall sense of cohesion, the micro reflects the macro, and organisations are better able to flow with the creative impulse that informs all of life.