Inspiring Generational Leadership: Your Guide to Design a Conscious Culture, a new book by DeLinda Forsythe, starts out with the stirring line, “Doing well and doing well need not and should not be mutually exclusive.”
Innovative Commercial Environments (ICE), a furniture contract business that Forsythe founded in 2006 from a spare bedroom, is named after her. It now employs over a dozen people and has achieved remarkable success in its sector. Forsythe went out to determine what led to the company’s success because she was amazed by it herself. She realized she was unwittingly using conscious capitalism’s ideals and instinctively embracing certain values that connected with her crew, which was mostly made up of Millennials. She discusses how ICE successfully established its company utilizing these ideas in Inspiring Generational Leadership. She also discusses ICE’s participation in the community and interviews she conducted with other businessmen that have the same mentality.
Forsythe’s initial goal was to merely provide a workplace that did not “hijack your soul.” She had experienced poor working conditions firsthand and did not want that for her own business or her staff. She preferred to have her company serve as a positive influence on society and an example for her staff. What she has accomplished is a workplace she refers to as a “wellspring of happiness” where employees respect one another and love one another like family while working toward a common objective. Because the ideals of the Millennial workforce are similar to those of conscious capitalism, she contends that other businesses will struggle if they do not adopt these values. Forsythe quotes John Mackey and Raj Sisodia from their book Conscious Capitalism, which claims that “the real underlying goal of business is to elevate mankind and provide value for all stakeholders.”
Without delving too further into the idea of conscious capitalism, I’ll just say that Forsythe makes a strong case for why conscious capitalism is effective using multiple examples from ICE’s past. The book is organized into thirteen chapters, each of which focuses on one of the fundamental strategies that has helped ICE achieve its level of success. Start with the End in Mind: Mentorship, Embrace Workplace Family, Create Raving Fans, Vulnerability in the Workplace, and Fostering Community are just a few of the subjects covered.
Forsythe goes into great detail on her interactions with her coworkers, particularly with Alysse Cooper, who was one of her first hires and is being prepared to take her place. She explains how staff meetings are organized to be enjoyable and effective. She talks about the difficulties she encountered during the coronavirus epidemic and how strong friendships that the staff had already forged and open lines of communication during this time kept them motivated to achieve in the face of adversity.
The emphasis on the value of sharing mistakes at work is one of my favorite aspects of the book. According to Forsythe, who established a secure environment for such communication, “Any error is okay, but hiding it is never acceptable and can even be cause for dismissal. We always encourage each other to forgive their teammates in an effort to foster self-forgiveness. Forgiving ourselves for disappointing our team can occasionally be the most difficult task for us. Tears are occasionally shed, but they show how much the employee cares.”
Other eye-opening tactics at ICE include focusing on mission statements in ways that go beyond just paying lip respect to them, as well as creating a staff book club with built-in incentives. The staff members came up with a list of common workplace ideals that are frequently reinforced. The company’s involvement in the community is also mentioned, as are Forsythe’s networking efforts with other corporate leaders in the San Diego region to improve society. She talks on how it’s crucial to treat every worker fairly because “everyone’s effort and voice are equal and relevant.” The fact that she promotes individuality among her staff members and aspires to authenticity herself may be most significant: “Showing up as the true person you are creates a secure workplace for creativity to bloom.”
Forsythe’s knowledge of how what we do today affects future generations is the basis for the book’s title, “Generational Leadership.” She claims: “By positively influencing our coworkers, we set the foundation for positively influencing the mental health of our colleagues’ offspring and their descendants, ultimately leaving a lasting impression on thousands of individuals. When considered through a more timeless lens, the ripple effect’s potential consequences are vast!” This viewpoint keeps her always aware that running a business involves more than just turning a profit; it also involves leaving a lasting legacy and influencing present and future generations. In the end, Forsythe wants that shaping to reach far beyond her own workplace, which is why she wrote this book in the hopes that it will encourage other corporate executives to establish workplaces where everyone can achieve. She issues a call to action to other leaders, encouraging them to “lead via enlightened leadership skills, which include kindness, empathy, and a generous spirit.”
Inspiring Generational Leadership by Forsythe is the only business or leadership book I can recall reading that really encompassed everything in such a focused and motivating way. I urge you to try using Forsythe’s suggestions, even though some of them may initially appear too good to be true, while never losing sight of the overall picture. Your workers will thank you for it, and I think you’ll eventually thank Forsythe for the new, mindful business direction she’s guiding.