How many people can really say that they are conscious entrepreneurs? What does that mean to be a conscious entrepreneur? George Zimmer, Chairman, CEO & Founder at Generation Tux who received his honorary doctorate from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University in 2003 shares his ideas on how conscious business, and in turn conscious capitalism, involves leading from the heart and knowing the significance of serving. George will also be the 2017 Commencement Keynote Speaker for Sofia University.
“Grounding Conscious Capitalism in Shared Servant Leadership”
In business, like in sports, increased energy and loyalty comes from being valued as important members of a team. In this way, it’s been my conviction that conscious business leaders should define success by creating success for others. A conscious business leader can help unleash the synergistic human energy and creativity that comes from motivated, cooperative groups, that are moving forward with a shared intention. This is much like a great coach helps individuals and the team reach high levels of success.
John Wooden, famed basketball coach at UCLA for over 20 years, who died at the ripe old age of 100, understood this well. He also saw the importance of creating a solid foundation on which to build collective success. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” he had a program for coaching that he called the “Pyramid of Success.” At the bottom of the Pyramid is all the foundational stuff that makes someone a great player.
He would take the freshmen All-American recruits and explain that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything. This includes basic things that one might take for granted, like how you put on your socks and lace up your sneakers. Based in his simple philosophy, his team won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period, including an unprecedented seven in a row. To get to the top, you have to set a strong foundation.
Throughout my business career, I’ve always encouraged managers to think with their hearts as well as their heads. As is the case in sports, in business a solid foundation is created when people are able to openly discuss the integration of body, mind, heart and spirit. It’s important to work hard, but also to celebrate success and have fun together. These qualities help to build a strong team. In the process, it’s vital for those in management to understand that leading employees and selling merchandise to customers is as much about authentic caring and building trust as it is about conforming to rules and meeting benchmarks.
Over the decades I have found that this involves three foundational principles: respect; listening and demonstrating understanding; and asking for help in solving problems. It’s important to create an atmosphere in which people aren’t afraid of failing – since this is the way we learn and prosper together. Our goal as leaders is both to inspire and motivate the people that we manage, helping them to become their best and brightest selves – this is fundamentally positive reciprocal altruism.
During my career I’ve sought to develop these principles by becoming a servant leader. This concept was originally introduced by organizational development guru Robert Greenleaf, who started writing about servant leadership almost 50 years ago. For Greenleaf, the best test of leadership is helping those who are being served grow as people, becoming freer, wiser, healthier, more autonomous – and more likely to become servant leaders themselves.
About George Zimmer
He is Chairman, CEO & Founder at Generation Tux and zTailors as well as Founder and former CEO and Chairman of Men’s Wearhouse. He is a father of four, husband and business Warrior Monk who roots for the underdog.