Putting People At the Center of Work with Jeff Ma & Mohammad Anwar
It is my pleasure to welcome Mohammad Anwar (Founder & CEO, Softway) and Jeff Ma (Director, Softway).
In this episode we covered:
- What is the biggest challenge that you have experienced in leading people and teams and developing that culture overall?
- In your book, ‘Love is a Business Strategy,’ you talk about putting people at the center of work. What does that mean and how does that relate to overcoming some of these challenges?
- Why would organizations that are traditionally focused on the triple bottom line want to put people at the center of work?
What is the biggest challenge that you have experienced in leading people and teams and developing that culture overall?
There’s this human tendency to really lean towards harmony. You have to be uncomfortable to impact real change, especially when it comes to culture. Comfort conceals candor. The desire is often a lack of actual human connection and empathy.
One of the biggest challenges is how do you lead an organization towards a unified goal when everybody comes from different perspectives, different opinions, but your biggest challenge is how do you mitigate all of that to still drive the outcomes you’re looking for in the business.
In your book, ‘Love is a Business Strategy,’ you talk about putting people at the center of work. What does that mean and how does that relate to overcoming some of these challenges?
Every business decision and strategy can be made by keeping people at the center of all of those strategic decisions, starting with them. If you think about every aspect of your business, there’s nothing you can accomplish without the people that work at the organization. Start with them in mind, use their order of hierarchy in your decision making. We believe love which is the center of humanity is needed to make your business strategic decisions.
Why would organizations that are traditionally focused on the triple bottom line want to put people at the center of work?
The reality is that there’s a tight correlation between employee satisfaction culture, and the bottom line. So that itself is debunked. The reality that we see today in almost all work environments now is that by putting people first, having them enjoy their job, be invested and have ownership in what they bring to the table, you bring out the very best in them. The bottom line is that change is really hard. And so even though we’re starting to see it, people don’t know how to change it and adjust.
How do organizations put people at the center of work?
First step is to change the mindsets and behaviors of the leadership. It starts with leaders as they set the tone and either nurture the culture or destroy it. Culture is going to help be a catalyst to build high performance in energy business outcomes when everybody brings similar mindsets and behaviors to the table, so that everybody experiences culture to maximize bringing your true self and full self to work. There is genuinity needed.
Now in the book, you talk about the six pillars of love. What are those six pillars of love?
The six pillars of cultural love are inclusion, empathy, vulnerability, trust, empowerment, and forgiveness.
How do organizations actually facilitate this change and adoption of these pillars?
Try to get people to recognize that there is the lack of self-awareness of these things. The pillars are not one silver bullet. They are guideposts to continue a culture’s growth. It starts with building self-awareness followed by commitment. Unfortunately people in general always have cognitive dissonance where they think we’re better than what we really are. When the leaders aren’t even ready to accept that they have a problem; when they’re not even self aware, neither are they committed to change, then all these tools are just a waste of money.
How do leaders and organizations that want to make that transition, overcome that lag time between behavior changes and the return?
It takes time, work, and effort over a period of time. It has to be genuine the whole way through. It’s hard. Dedication alone is a huge first step, where the leadership is making commitment and sticking to it and trusting each other.
What have we not talked about from your book?
We do this because of a mission statement. We never got into this for the money. We talk about bringing humanity back to the workplace, intentionally using the word back because we look around us and we see a world that has kind of lost touch with it. High reliability is also a very important topic. When you don’t have high reliability at organizations, you go through intense process updates, protocols, policies, and drive behaviors, etc.
Organizations can be very restrictive and people are afraid to share the real happenings that are leading to accidents or leading to issues. We’ve noticed that when you institute a culture of love, where people truly care for each other and support each other and are not afraid to speak up, speak the truth, have honest conversations over harmony, then you can actually increase high reliability.
Where can people find out more about you, the book, the tools, all the training, all these different things?
We have the book available at Amazon’s Noble, it’s a bestseller. We have a podcast called ‘Love is a Business Strategy.’ If you are with an organization that’s looking to transform your culture and start with leadership for high reliability, we do offer programs and experiences, as well as technology. Learn more via www.culture-plus.com.
Is there a favorite resource you wanna share with the listeners?
‘When Millennials Take Over’ book by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant will encourage every leader to read and understand the value of culture.
- Mohammad Anwar
- Jeff Ma LinkedIn
- Book: Love as a Business Strategy
- Book: When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business
- Seneca Leaders
- Love as business strategy podcast
- Love as a Business Strategy
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