Mohammad Anwar started Softway at twenty, where he still serves as the President and CEO. He is the co-author of “Love As A Business Strategy®.” In this episode, he shares with Marcel his story of self-awareness and growth to become a leader fully dedicated to love. He is a true case study of the turnaround of toxic leadership and business success.
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“In a deep moment of introspection, I realized [the business failure] wasn’t the market conditions, this wasn’t our customers, this wasn’t our team; this was actually MY fault.” [07:21] When his company, Softway, was just about to go bankrupt, Mohammad sought advice in an unexpected place: college football. It is via an interview with the University of Houston’s head coach that he discovered the impact of love in a team that could truly transform his leadership and his business.
“I asked at a town hall meeting of 100+ employees if trust had improved between them and I…and only two people raised their hands”. [24:55] A year and a half into his journey of changing his ways, policies, and behavior as a person and a leader, this was a wake-up call response. Mohammad, after deep reflection, realized he could not build trust until he sought forgiveness for the leader he once was, and that was when it all shifted.
“You might have coworkers who mistreat you, bosses who mistreat you, but you look at all the perks and benefits, and those are just temporary golden handcuffs on your wrists.” [30:20] Take a look at companies with infamously good culture offerings: free food, leisure activities, etc. Are these contributing to a positive culture, or are they, as Mohammad calls them, “golden handcuffs” — benefits and perks that allow employees to overlook toxic workplace habits?
“Culture is nothing but the emotional environment of how we feel about one another, how we treat one another, and how we behave with one another.” [30:40] Mohammad shares an impactful definition of culture, and it all goes back to the impact your behavior has. If you want to change culture, you must change your behavior, and it starts all the way to the top with the CEO and founder.
“We realized that the secret sauce was that these six behaviors were exhibited by everyone in the company: inclusion, empathy, vulnerability, trust, empowerment, and forgiveness.” [34:20] Mohammad looked into the success of his company to see what was truly working and making all this success come together after his leadership shift. He wrote in his book, Love as a Business Strategy, about these six pillars he found in his workplace that work together like the cylinders of a car engine toward harmony and high performance.
“As leaders, we have to build self-awareness of our own behaviors and understand how we think we are coming across versus how people are actually experiencing us.” [49:33] Mohammad’s journey, at its core, is all about self-awareness; he noticed his behavior and how it was impacting his team and his company, and he changed. Many believe toxic leaders can’t change and that it won’t have an impact, but he is proof that the culture and behaviors present in your business will affect the bottom line every time.
Mentioned in this episode:
- Mohammad Anwar on LinkedIn
- Mohammad Anwar on Facebook
- Mohammad Anwar (@mfanwar) on Instagram
- Softway Solutions
- Love as a Business Strategy Podcast
- Marcel Schwantes
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