For perennial profits

ALL ABOUT SHARING Peter Pruzan with Kirsten Pruzan Mikkelsen in New Delhi

ALL ABOUT SHARING Peter Pruzan with Kirsten Pruzan Mikkelsen in New Delhi   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: S.SUBRAMANIUM

Anuj Kumar speaks to a Danish couple that is working on integrating ethics with economics

Business never sounded as holistic before. A cursory read through the manuscript of "Leading with Wisdom" to be published by Sage Publications, and the acuity of profit and loss diminish. The author couple, Peter Pruzan and Kirsten Pruzan Mikkelsen are in the city to participate in a seminar on integrating spirituality and organisational leadership in Delhi University. Peter, Professor Emeritus at the Copenhagen Business School says, "My outlook towards business and economics changed when I went to Bangladesh as the head of a World Bank project." There he saw poverty on a massive scale and the disparity between what is decided in boardroom meetings and what is needed on the ground. "There I realised the importance of ethics in economics, two terms that were never taught in the same class. I coined a new term ethical accounting. It has its basis in spirituality. Like the concept of atman or say inner introspection here instead of asking who am I, here one should asks who are we (company). Our obligations are also towards the society not just the share market." To make their point the duo in collaboration with another couple Debra and William Miller have interviewed 31 leaders from 15 countries including India who led from spiritual bases and are successful in the business world.

Novel move

"To me the most riveting is the story of Lars Kolind, former chairman and CEO of Oticon, Denmark. When he joined the company was financially very weak and downsizing was the only option," shares Peter. Instead of following the regular practice of giving pink slips to the oldies or those who were not contributing to the company's progress, Kolind terminated the services of all those who had better chances of getting a new job. "Everybody called him a fool for the company was left with worthless people. But the move shook up the conscience of those who were left so much that the company grew like a rocket. He undid the practice of designations and ordered big tables so that people could work together." Peter accepts that some companies follow corporate social responsibility to gain mileage in the media, tax benefits and good recall value. "However, I don't see any problem with this attitude because corporate world is like a big ship. It takes time to turn. Even a small movement is beneficial." One of highlights is how the couple has encapsulated the definitions of spirituality on the basis of their interviews with the leaders. One calls it a deep connection with a force greater than oneself, while another one terms it to be in tune with a universal spirit when you are not acting from a place of ego or desire or greed but on behalf of the welfare of the totality.Kirsten, who is a journalist by profession, says they have drawn heavily from the Gita. "Particularly the concept of doing one's karma and not thinking about the fruits. The book could be beneficial for MBA students for it is in the business schools that future business leaders are born. It is crucial for trans-national companies have more reach and budgets than elected governments these days."As part of the epilogue they have President Kalam. "It is to show the kind of political leadership we need to develop a sync between private and public sector," sums up Peter, who has not taken any royalty from the publisher for the effort. ANUJ KUMAR

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