How to become an altruistic leader

When it comes to leadership, a utopian approach is not the right path to follow. What is, then?

by Isaac Getz


When it comes to leadership, Isaac Getz, professor at ESCP Business School thinks that a utopian approach is not the right path to follow: “A utopia doesn’t exist in any place by definition. Successful companies have a way greater inspirational power than utopias.”

And their inspirational power comes from looking at what’s happening not inside the company, but outside: as Getz puts it, “you don’t look at your stomach, you look at the horizon.” Today, the biggest challenge that organizations must face is that “despite all the benefits that capitalism has brought to society, we have reached the moment when its social and environmental downsides have begun to outweigh its positive effects,” states Getz in his latest book, The Altruistic Corporation.

A radical departure from the concepts of corporate social responsibility or shared value, and even from the idea of reinventing a capitalist firm such as with “conscious capitalism” and “B-corps,” the concept of an “altruistic corporation” explains, for the first time, how a capitalistic firm can unconditionally serve its external counterparts — customers, suppliers, former employees, youth, and communities — and, thanks to that, become prosperous. This is a change that implies transforming a company so every employee serves the other unconditionally without asking for permission. Writes Getz: “The majority of people have solutions for the issues they observe and want to take initiative to serve the other unconditionally, but they can’t do that if they are stuck in a traditional, hierarchical, and bureaucratic organization.” Altruistic corporations unleash people’s initiative to treat their external counterparts as friends.

According to Getz, it’s a process that requires an entire organization’s commitment, but only the CEO of a company can make the decision to transform it. Often, such CEOs undergo a deep psychological transformation. How, then, should such leaders begin to transform their companies? “Don’t speak, act. There is no love; there is only proof of love.”