The launch of Business as an Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with the Dalai Lama took place on the 10th September at the Power & Care (A Mind & Life Dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama) in Brussels. The author of the book, Sander Tideman, presented a copy to HH the Dalai Lama, who commented:
“Of course, this is very good. We need to bring compassion into business; compassion is the best motivation for any activity in the world. It benefits others as well as yourself, including your business”.
While forthcoming on other humanitarian and environmental issues, the Dalai Lama rarely speaks directly on the topics of business, leadership and economics.
This new title is the result of two decades of research and dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other leaders in business, government, science and education. Author Sander Tideman, an expert and consultant in leadership development and sustainable business who has maintained a friendship with the Dalai Lama over the last 20 years, presents a practical framework and methodology to develop a new kind of leadership – societal leadership in business – which is fit to tackle escalating social, economic and environmental needs and to re-purpose the business world.
In his foreword to the book, the Dalai Lama comments,
“Over recent years I have engaged with business leaders and economists… My friend Sander Tideman, who initiated many of these dialogues… has gathered these conversations together in this book.”
The author, Sander Tideman, states:
“There are a number of books that explore the need to incorporate ethical and sustainable practice in business and an ever-growing number of books that help individuals achieve greater fulfillment in their lives. This book sets out to be different: it interweaves the story of a lawyer/banker who was hard-wired into commonplace notions of economic and personal success (me!) and the life choices that I have made over the course of my career, with the wider story of what is happening in the global economy and business world. This story is punctuated by a number of meetings with one of the world’s most respected leaders, H.H. the Dalai Lama. Through dialogue between the Dalai Lama and a number of notable thinkers in business and society, important questions are raised, each reflecting a period in time both in my own career and in broader global events.”
The discussion, however, also transcends any specific points in time and provides some important questions for humanity: can personal motivation and fulfilment be aligned with economic and business prosperity? What does economic and business prosperity mean in the long term? Should we change our notion of prosperity to not only ensure the long-term viability of the planet and social equality, but also improve the sense of happiness and well-being in individuals? Can the purpose of individuals, business, and society be aligned?
The book contains the transcripts of four public meetings with the Dalai Lama, starting in 1999, on a topic that the Buddhist leader does not often speak on: the role of business and economics in society. These meetings took place over two decades in which the world has seen massive change, both positive and negative. During this period, the reach and impact of business economically, environmentally, and socially has become immense.
The dialogues recounted in Business as an Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with the Dalai Lama call for greater attention to the purpose of organizations and their leaders. Specifically, they call for leaders of business to develop a type of purposeful leadership so that their business will truly create societal, economic, and ecological value. If we want to develop this type of leadership, we will first need to take a step back in time and thoroughly reflect on why we are doing what we do, and whether we are moving in the right direction.
At the heart of the book lies the journey to discover our shared purpose, which ignites new sources of value creation for organisations, customers and society. This ‘triple value’ is achieved by embedding a sustainable strategy at the heart of business operations and by responding to the fundamental reality of interconnectedness.
Text adapted from the Introduction to Business as an Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with the Dalai Lama.