To increase revenue, improve customer experience, and develop higher-performing teams, it’s time for leaders to stop looking for quick fixes to complex business problems and start building a culture of love.

Yes, love.

Anchored by Softway’s own transformational journey, Love as a Business Strategy offers a new, people-first framework for achieving any business outcome—written by folks that aren’t fans of run-of-the-mill business books. Mohammad Anwar, CEO of Softway, is one of those folks, and I recently caught up with him to learn more about what inspired his team to write this book.

Published with permission from the author.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

Our company has been through tremendous change in its 18-year history. After multiple reinventions of our business model, nearly going bankrupt, massive global layoffs, a total cultural transformation, and soaring success—it’s been a wild ride.

Every once in a while during this journey, we discussed writing a book containing our stories—but it wasn’t until we realized that our clients could actually benefit from what we’ve learned that we got serious about writing Love as a Business Strategy.

In 2019 we traveled around the world teaching thousands of leaders during a leadership event crafted from our own experiences at Softway called Seneca Leaders. During one of those events, an attendee from a fortune 50 company told me—very bluntly—that the content we taught needed to be in a book. He was stunned by the empathetic stories we told, the universal application of the lessons, and the unapologetic vulnerability of our facilitators.

He told me it was time to put pen to paper. I shared his feedback with my co-authors, and we all agreed that it was time to share our story with the world.

From there, the rest is history!

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

My favorite actionable idea comes near the beginning of the book, where we describe the importance of introspection to help yield better self-awareness around behaviors. Peter Drucker is quoted for saying “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”—but a work culture is only as good as the behaviors that create or destroy it. So we have a slightly different saying at Softway: “Behaviors eat culture…for lunch”. If you don’t have a foundation of good behaviors, you can’t have a good workplace culture. Period.

Improving behaviors starts, at a base level, with introspection.

We’re usually accustomed to the term “reflection” in business, rather than true introspection. If you really want to change your behavior, you must understand why you behave the way you do, and more importantly, what you can do differently—answers to those questions come by way of introspection.

For example, if you find yourself in conflict with a colleague, introspect by asking yourself questions like:

  • How did I feel when that person spoke to me?
  • Why did I react to that co-worker in that way?
  • What, specifically, triggered me to react in that way?
  • What could I be holding against them to make me react in that way?
  • Why haven’t I brought it up, shared this feedback, or made amends yet?

Taking time to introspect on our behaviors helps us to have a more full understanding of who we are, and how our behaviors impact the culture and business outcomes of our workplace.

Published with permission from the author.

What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own business? What has this lesson done for you or your company?

A few years ago I believed I was a great leader. I must’ve been excellent for having brought a decade of success to Softway, right? But I had no Idea how people were perceiving my behaviors.

I often think back to my favorite example of my lack of self-awareness. When I would call our team in India, it would take forever for them to pick up the phone or not pick it up at all. Turns out they were playing hot-potato—tossing the phone from person to person because no one wanted to talk to me.

I thought it was a bad internet connection, but in reality—they were terrified to pick up the phone. I used to blame the IT department for the lack of connectivity, but it wasn’t until someone from the IT department shared with me that it wasn’t the internet or an IT issue. It was me. I was the problem.

In that moment, I began introspecting on my behaviors as a leader. Was I really that good of a leader if people wouldn’t even pick up when I call? That incident kick-started a journey of introspection into my behaviors, and became a jumping off point for our company’s cultural transformation.

Since then, learning how to practice introspection and build self-awareness has saved my company and transformed me as a leader, husband, father, and friend. Once I realized how my behaviors as the CEO of a company impacted our culture and our bottom line, I began a journey to improve my behaviors and create a culture of love at Softway. A journey I’m still on to this day.

Now, I’m now able to see people as people. I’m able to listen and respond in ways that make their lives better and their jobs more enjoyable. And together, alongside a tremendously talented team, we’re able to make our company’s vision a reality: bringing humanity back to the workplace.