On a crusade for ethical capitalism

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On a crusade for ethical capitalism

  1. 1. Entrepreneurship Ref: 0125On a crusade for ethical capitalismBy Katie Walsh | November 21, 2012 Fred Kofman is on a global tour to promote his views on great business leadership. Photo: Andrew Vincent PhotographySpain-based consultant and author Fred Kofman likes to compare extraordinarybusiness leaders to Olympic gold medallists. Except that business leaders aren’trevered, he says. They are scorned.Kofman wants to change that: he wants society to admire all legitimate, ethicalbusiness people – that means those who don’t act like the Mafia – and for thosebusiness people to be proud of their achievements.Without it, he argues, we’re dangerously stifling the potential of capitalism, which hashelped to develop humanity more than any other system. It’s something peoplewould realise if they studied economic history, Kofman says.“It’s the most effective promotion of peace and prosperity – and the worst affliction ofour age is that nobody knows this.” For further information on this handout and the consulting and coaching programs available please contact: Page 1 of 3 Image Group International Asia Pacific Head Office T: (+61 3) 9824 0420 E: info@imagegroup.com.au www.imagegroup.com.au ©2012
  2. 2. Kofman is a champion of conscious capitalism, a global trend that is injecting ethicsand values into business.His book, Conscious Business, promotes introspection by leaders, encouraging themto build human values in organisations and create inspiring workplaces that bring outthe best in staff.AXA and AMP are among local beneficiaries of his advice; globally, he has workedwith Google and Microsoft. Speaking to The Australian Financial Review after aConscious Capitalism Australia breakfast in Sydney, while on a global tour, Kofmanexplains his latest efforts to help rid business leaders of shame.“They’ve been hoodwinked into feeling ashamed for making money,” he says. “Iwould like people to feel proud of being powerful . . . and to develop the energy tolearn the hard lessons that are necessary to lead and operate in this environment.”Ask people who they admire, and Kofman says the names of politicians, doctors,military heroes and sporting champions come flooding out. If a businessman likeWarren Buffet or Bill Gates is mentioned, it’s because they gave away their money,not because they made it.“It’s a social virus, it’s a virus of the mind that makes people disparage capitalismand the role of entrepreneurs and business people and the advancement of society.”Changing that perception and making business people proud is the starting point forKofman.“Many believe that it is necessary to sell out to succeed in business, or drop out topursue a spiritual life. This is a false polarity,” he says.Then comes the training. First, to change attitudes – making people accountable fortheir actions and shifting from the “victim” attitude that seeks exculpation. Second, toimprove practice by listening to and respecting others.“If someone disagrees with us, our impulse is to raise our voice, be more forcefuland try to convince the other person. In a situation of conflict everyone gets lockedinto pushing, and wants to push harder. But you can’t get the best from people if youpush them down.”Role plays of tricky conversations help to catch a bad pattern of interrupting theperson speaking.Not everybody has to go through the training, he says, but the culture of a businessmust shift to support the positive behaviours.“It’s essential that the whole company develops this attitude, that the leader developsthis in the followers,” says Kofman. For further information on this handout and the consulting and coaching programs available please contact: Page 2 of 3 Image Group International Asia Pacific Head Office T: (+61 3) 9824 0420 E: info@imagegroup.com.au www.imagegroup.com.au ©2012
  3. 3. And only sustained practice will entrench values.Australian leadership coach and chief executive of Stephenson Mansell Group, KipFrame, says that Kofman’s method brings a unique perspective. “A lot of clientsseparate leadership from their business strategy,” he says. “Fred integrates them.”For Kofman, accountability and empowerment are the key to unlocking greatpotential – for peaceful business and “beautiful capitalism”. (For a fervent response,get Kofman talking about the financial crisis. It was, he says, the antithesis ofcapitalism: printing money, bailing out banks. It was communism in the financialsystem driven by thuggish central banks that will, like the Soviet Union, collapse.)“Any business person who does business fully deserves my admiration,” he says.But reaching the level of an extraordinary business leader requires humility,knowledge, wisdom, passion – it’s hard to learn, and is as difficult as being a goldmedallist, he says.The principles Kofman espouses are so demanding that he admits he cannot think ofa fully enlightened leader. But he adds if you combined the maniacal passion ofApple founder Steve Jobs, the compassion of Whole Foods chief executive JohnMackey and the drive of Microsoft’s Bill Gates, you might just get there. For further information on this handout and the consulting and coaching programs available please contact: Page 3 of 3 Image Group International Asia Pacific Head Office T: (+61 3) 9824 0420 E: info@imagegroup.com.au www.imagegroup.com.au ©2012

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