Professionalism, Service and Holiness of Life & The Human Economy

The Meditation of the Day in the Magnificat on Thursday July 13th started out with “Professionalism, Service and Holiness of Life: if we deviate from this trio, we shall fall from the greatness to which we are called.” This was a phrase taken by an address by Pope Francis to the Curia which is the extensive administrative staff that conducts the business of the whole Roman Catholic Church.

These three words: Professionalism, Service and Holiness sum up the mission of Attollo. This trio, as Pope Francis called them, Professionalism, Service and Holiness of Life, are the hallmarks of a well formed, integrated business leader. He continues by saying that “if we deviate from this trio we shall fall from the greatness to which we are called….”

Pope Francis nailed it.

Sure it was directed to the Curia – but his words apply to our world as well.You are called to greatness as a business leader and if you ignore this trio you will fall.

One day later, today, I read an article that dovetails nicely with Pope Francis’ quote in the Magnificat. It’s called “The Rise of the Human Economy“. The premise of the article is that as automation of processes and AI / artificial intelligence continues to advance and accelerate that we need to shift our thinking from competing with increasingly capable machines to complementing them and thrive as a result. The author writes that we need to develop purely human qualities to complement AI that only people possess, such as the ability to collaborate or display kindness, determination, and grit. He continues by stating that companies need to infuse heart and soul into their daily transactions, leveraging humanity at their core.

Personally, I’ve never forgotten that all businesses, at their core, are communities of humans. The business world over the years has dehumanized the human workforce calling people “assets” and “resources” that can be “deployed” and “removed from service”. The irony is that machines are coming and the article suggests that we need to re-humanize the workforce to complement the coming wave of automation.

Other excerpts for those who like to skim:

  • In the industrial revolution, employers hired for physical strength and dexterity. They hired hands. In the knowledge economy, employees were selected for their intelligence and command of specialized information. They were hired heads. Today, we are living in the human economy. We hire for hearts, for the deepest, most human qualities that no machine can replicate; capacities like empathy and creativity, and traits like honesty, trust, and responsibility, traits that come from the heart. These are the elements that build deep, sustainable relationships.
  • The need to live an integrated life (versus a divided life). Although only 8 percent of corporate cultures have fully integrated sustainable human values at their core, according to our research, it’s a growing phenomenon. This was not always the case. For a long time, we kept our humanity confined to our personal and religious lives, separate from our public and professional selves. We lived in two separate spheres. In the former, we pursued meaning and sought to live our values. In the latter, we focused on a seemingly amoral pursuit of profit. But now, the reshaped world we live in requires an integration of our respective identities. We must embrace the notion that our success no longer simply hinges on what we do but also on how we do what we do.
  • It’s not all mushy, feel-good tripe –  According to Cone Communications, 90 percent of consumers worldwide expect businesses to stand for more than profits, while Nielsen reports that 55 percent are willing to pay more for so-called responsible brands.
  • Trust drives performance. – LRN research shows that employees who work in high trust environments are 32x likely to take risks that might benefit the company, 11x more likely to see higher levels of innovation relative to their competition and 6x more likely to achieve higher levels of performance compared to others in their industry. 
  • Companies are starting to wake up to the fact that they need to be more human, and marketing departments are following suit. Chevron is now the “human energy” company, Cisco is the “human network,” Dow is the “human element,” Samsung is “designed for humans,” and John Deere is about “human flourishing.” Though these efforts are likely earnest attempts to embody human values, companies get into trouble when they don’t fully and completely instill these values in their organizations
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