The M™buis forum on Leadership, Spirituality, and Values is the first HBS conference to explicitly address spirituality and values in business. It will take place on April 11 and 12 at HBS and bring together senior executives, entrepreneurs, academicians, and students to explore these issues. The conference name comes from a M”bius Strip, a band of paper where the inner and outer edges are joined together in a continuous and seamless link. This is a metaphor for the theme of the conference: integration between our inner lives of values or spirituality and our outer lives of leadership.
The purpose of the M™bius Forum is to explore some fundamental questions that impact how leaders influence the well being of not only shareholders, but also society at large:
What is the relationship between our inner lives of values or spirituality and our outer lives of leadership?
What conflicts exist between these two aspects of our lives and what are we doing about it?
What opportunities exist to be more effective leaders in our firms, communities, and world by integrating these two aspects of our lives?
The idea for the Mobius forum came from three EC students -Tony Deifell (OK), Naveen Jeereddi (OK), and Trevoir Gregg (OK). The Dean’s Office agreed to sponsor the forum and the founders started recruiting a core leadership team for Mobius. The large number of HBS students responding to Mobius convinced us that there was indeed a large number of people who care about leadership, spirituality, and values. The core leadership consists of the following people in addition to the three founders:
Ziv Bursztyn (NH), Lea Carpenter (NK), Mike Dershewitz (NC), Kirsti Domay (OA), Arash Farin (NK), Lee Teng Loh (NJ), Kerry Kilar (NE), Debbie McCoy (NC), Ariba Tanvir (NH), and Siddharth Thacker (ND).
What unites us all, despite our different religions and ideologies, is a passion for integrating our spirituality and values with our outer lives.
As we were developing the vision for Mobius, one question kept coming up in the discussions between faculty members, administrators and the HBS students: “As business leaders, why should we care about spirituality? Does it have a role in our outer lives?” Here are some of the reasons why business leaders need to think about spirituality and values:
1. Corporate America’s growing interest in spirituality: A recent cover story in Fortune Magazine “God And Business: The Surprising Quest For Spiritual Renewal In The American Workplace” (7/16/01), identifies a growing movement of individuals and groups surfacing all over corporate American – a diverse, mostly unorganized mass of people, who want to bridge the traditional divide between spirituality and work. According to a Business Week poll, 78% of Americans (up from 20% in 1994) said they feel the need in their lives to experience spiritual growth. 51% said that modern life leaves them too busy to enjoy God or pray as they would like. Through the FORUM, Harvard Business School will contribute to a burgeoning discussion of values and spirituality as it applies to business – a conversation that has already begun in workplaces nationwide.
2. Call for moral leadership in light of recent events: The Enron debacle and the events of September 11 highlight the importance of moral leadership in the business world. Since external leadership stems from our inner values and spirituality, it behooves us to think about these issues and how they relate to our outer professional lives so that we can ensure that our actions truly contribute to the well being of society.
3. Personal fulfillment: Research shows that people find their work more meaningful and their lives more purposeful when their inner values and outer lives are in harmony. M™BIUS FORUM will allow current and future leaders to discuss practical ways to integrate leadership and values in their work and address the tensions and tradeoffs they face in trying to align their business and personal lives as they seek to impact their firms, communities, and world.
The key highlights of the forum will include:
(author of “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”)
A Debate on Moral Authority:
Alan Dershowitz (HLS), Harvey Cox (HDS), Dutch Leonard (KSG), Stephen Kosslyn (Psyc)
moderated by Ronald Heifetz
The Body Shop & Anita Roddick, run by prominent HBS faculty members: Joseph Badaracco, Kent Bowen, Rohit Deshpande, Myra Hart, Laura Nash, Das Narayandas, Lynn Paine, Huw Pill, Sandra Sucher, Mike Wheeler
“Money, Media & Morality,” “Profits & Prophets: The Role of Values in Investment,” “Genomics: Where Does Science End and Ethics Begin?” “Can Spirituality Drive Success?” and others on entrepreneurship and family/life balance