We’ve just been reading World Vision Australia CEO, Tim Costello’s chapter in the recent Australian Institute of Management publication, Love @ Work.
It looks like we’ve been reading pretty much the same books as Tim over the
last five years. Well, that’s probably an unfair comparison. Reading the chapter
we think Tim may have read many more books than we have in that time. But let’s
say we’ve read most of the books he refers to.
We started with the last chapter and haven’t looked at the others yet but
we can say it is compulsory reading for anyone with an interest in "leading
Tim reviews social movements through the ages and looks at what motivates
people like William
Wilberforce . We hadn’t know that 45 years elapsed between the time Wilberforce
first presented evidence to a committee of the Privy Council in 17888
at the age of 29…until the final Commons reading on 26 July 1833 abolishing
slavery in all British colonies. [and that] Wilberforce died three days later.
For all that, this is no sentimental soft motivational piece. Costello carefully,
painstakingly and forcefully constructs his argument and finds room for critiques
of many modern movements.
We rather like his calling of so called "Gurus" and consultants
as charlatans. (Of course the latter title does not apply to ourselves.) Mission
statements such as Exxon’s “The
customer comes first” get revealed for what they are — platitudes designed
to hide the truth that senior executives come first (thanks to a reference
Art Kleiner ).
Tim uses culture change "guru"
Ed Schein’s willingness
to compare his methods to those used against POWs in communist prison camps
as one example of how the latest "spirituality at work" movement
may in fact be just another method to bleed employees dry of not only their
physical and emotional health but of their souls as well.
We have quite some respect for the group Costello regards we think positively
but with caution — Senge,
Kahane, Jaworski Kleiner
and Danah Zohar :
Their books have a complex mixture of personal narrative, management theory,
tribal wisdom and New Age views on particle physics and human nature.
Through all this he builds a dilemma around spirituality at work. On the one
had it may satisfy the need to find fulfillment at work and bring more of ourselves
to creative solution making. On the other hand is the ever present danger of
misuse and abuse.
Tim quite beautifully creates the argument that perhaps the solution to this
dilemma is not to think about spirituality so much as think about Love.
Some have wondered whether such altruistic love that transcends ordinary
human limits might require and inflow of love from a higher source. But whatever
faith background one does or does not come from, altruistic love is at the
core of what makes individuals, families and societies whole, The very fabric
of society is held together by those people and associations who work for
the common good and not their self-interest alone.
We hope you buy the book.