The business bookshelves are full of them. The seven most successful habits, the four most effective executive tools, the 10 best ways to motivate — each volume bulges with the cleverest techniques and disciplines guaranteed to help you make the right decisions and lead your team to prosperity. Do you ever suspect that business is more than memorizing and applying these managerial parlor tricks?
Wouldn’t it be nice if the very best practices flowed naturally from your inner core; if your own spirit readily guided you into the right choices and onto the optimal path of leadership? Princeton business consultant Stephen G. Payne feels that it is not only nice, but necessary. And his organization, A New Equilibrium (ANE), helps you develop exactly that kind of spirit and self.
Those seeking more personal solutions to their careers may want to attend ANE’s annual Leadership and Spirituality Summit, with the title theme of “Sustaining Performance.” Lorraine Marchand, Princeton University’s James Wei Professor of Entrepreneurship, will lead the seminar at the Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Center on Friday and Saturday, November 1 and 2. Cost for seminar and meals: $85. Visit www.anewequilibrium.org.
Marchand, who currently unravels the mysteries of business to students at Princeton, Rutgers, and Columbia, began her own enterprise education from her serial-entrepreneur father in Washington D.C. “I remember my father founding a chemical manufacturing factory, and how amazingly fascinating and complex it all was,” she says. Inspired by this early interest, Marchand entered the University of Maryland, majoring in science and journalism, and earned her bachelor’s in 1984, followed by a masters in public affairs from American University. She later rounded out her education with M.B.A.s from both Columbia University and London Business School.
In a career as varied as her education, Marchand has done everything from writing medical research at Bristol-Myers Squibb, to developing startups. In 2001 she joined the Carnegie Center-based drug research contractor Covance Inc. as a vice-president, directing Phase II to IV pharmaceutical tests. As principal in the consulting firm of Cognizant Technology Solutions, she specialized in guiding life science companies toward improved management and technical systems. Today, when not running between the Princeton, Rutgers, and Columbia to teach a variety of business classes, Marchand is formulating a book to guide entrepreneurs through the bewildering maze of business launch.
“We all have the power of spirituality within us,” says Marchand. “I do not mean a particular religion, I mean the power of each person’s individual spiritual core. The problem is that too many people leave this powerful tool at the doorstep when they enter the workplace.”
Leading the team. Be it C-suite, project teammates, or the board of directors, getting folks fired up and ready to act according to your vision remains one of business’ greatest challenges. Marchand sees leadership as a journey whose first steps involve connecting with your inner self. “When I prepare for a meeting, I pre-meditate — get in touch with myself, my real purpose, and how this gathering will enhance that purpose,” she says.
The key is to define a purpose that draws together all quadrants of one’s life. So rather than hemming himself in with a meeting purpose of, say, getting a better market share out of this new drug, the leader may set his sights higher. Perhaps he might say to himself “I want to be a contributor to improving the lives and health of those around me.” Armed with this defined, all-inclusive direction, the leader can enter the meeting with, as Mark Twain puts it, the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.
This awareness and assurance, Marchand explains, allows the leader to focus on the team members. “You let go, you listen, discern the needs of the team,” she says. “You find yourself seeking to find out what is missing, and how I may help this person or those people. The tension dies. People relax. They feel recognized, rewarded, and ready to make a commitment.” The old, less-effective model of command and push gets replaced by bringing individuals together as a focused unit.
Escape from the cube farm. Nothing is less attractive in business than naked ambition. Additionally, few addictions are more destructive than possessing a craving to climb the corporate ladder as one’s sole motivation. Of course, all of us hold a desire to take seat in the CEO’s chair. However, Marchand insists, your best chances for success are to fix your eye on a greater purpose. Let your requests and suggestions take aim at corporate betterment.
Think of it from management’s point of view. Are supervisors more likely to take a shine and reward the guy who is blatantly seen as a hard-fighting, glistening-eyed striver, or that individual who keeps pushing to enhance the company and product? When your personal goals may be met through improving the corporation, it shows. “Coworkers see what you go to bat for, and how you naturally word your arguments,” says Marchand. “Your interest in moving things forward becomes attractively apparent.”
As a side note, if your personal goals stand in conflict with the progress of the corporation with whom you work, it is time to run, not walk, to another position.
Historically, business and affairs of the spirit have remained belligerently separate. But today’s business realm has gotten a lot tougher and contemporary life has become exceedingly more laden with stress. People are adopting whatever tools work. Does physical fitness help? Then let’s hit the gym. Does connecting with my own inner spirit and linking all aspects of my life into a satisfying whole give me a productive edge? Well then, who cares what others may do. Let me take on this added armor and watch me soar.
For Marchand, spirituality is a state of being from which improved actions flow. It is a centered place within herself which serves as a wellspring. “With the help of ANE training, and the partner program they provide, I have now gotten to where I can slip into that state much more rapidly within the work day,” says Marchand.
It’s been said that we employ only 10 percent of our brainpower on any task. By unleashing our spirit, perhaps we may each find a way to use substantially more.