Sunday, December 11, 2005

Making Sense

I keep an ongoing list of leadership and reputation quotes. Occasionally I review them to jump start my thinking. My collection of quotes contrast with what I see as today's intense and crushing focus on growth, the bottom line and quarterly earnings. All good things for sure but this monetary focus begs the question: Where does Xerox Parc guru John Seely Brown's comment fit in today's world? Brown was quoted in Fast Company as saying: "The job of leadership today is not just to make money. It’s to make meaning.”

When I first saw this quote, it resonated with me. To build lasting and enduring reputations and keep the right talent people, CEOs need to make work meaningful and purposeful. When one looks at companies such as Microsoft who is trying to eradicate disease or Intel who is recognizing science achievement, you know that meaning is being made.

Reputations cannot be built on financial performance alone. Our reputation research consistently finds financial performance as "necessary but not sufficient." Other attributes are equally if not more important today -- credibility, honesty, transparent communications, good places to work, motivation and inspiration. I guess that is where meaning comes in....leaders who can be straightforward about the organization's true purpose, treat and rewards employees well, motivate and inspire us to reach new heights. I wish we heard more about meaning and less about money from our leaders. When they do speak about meaning, we hear them loud and clear.

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