Six Must-Reads on Purpose, High Performance, and Creating a Better World

In my reading, I seek out stories about companies and executives working to build high-performing companies and a better world. Here I’ve curated recent articles that caught my attention. 

4 Ways CEOs Can Conquer Short-Termism

Kate Isaacs, David Langstaff, and Russ Eisenstat, my colleagues at the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, wrote this outstanding piece. This roadmap is the outcome of a research project through the Center that engaged 25 CEOs about their practices for mastering short-term pressures and creating long-term social and economic value, even in the toughest conditions.

(February 2017)

How Values-Based Leadership Transforms Organizational Cultures

Former Navy SEAL David Gleeson takes a look at values-based leadership in the context of organizational transformation.  He says leaders should lean on organizational values. “Once an organization's values are clearly defined, they should also be the guiding light for how performance is evaluated - at the team and individual level. This is especially true when organizations are facing change.”

(March 2017)

The Leadership Crisis at Uber

This is the opposite of a positive corporate success story, but there is a lot we can learn here. Dan Pontefract breaks down the missteps of Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick. Uber’s story shows the power that culture, ethics, and mission can have (or the impact the lack of these can have) on the success of an organization and its relationships with customers. 

(March 2017)

Patagonia and The North Face: saving the world – one puffer jacket at a time

A “long read” from The Guardian, this story delves into history, culture, and mission of each of these retailers – including profiles of the two CEOs. These companies face inherent struggles to stay true to purpose –and their environmental commitments – while still trying to grow.  They integrate revenue growth and their stated social contract through clear criteria for decision making.  

(March 2017)

What Mark Zuckerberg Understands About Corporate Purpose

Harvard Business School Professor George Sarafeim explores the reaction to Mark Zuckerberg’s recent statements in support of globalization and Facebook’s business model. In particular, he points to the public’s cynicism when it comes to executives’ statements about purpose, questioning whether they are authentic. As a CEO, are you trusted and taken seriously when it comes to talking about your corporate purpose? Sarafeim offers seven steps to help you shape a compelling purpose statement.

 (February 2017)

This CEO Wants You to Use Data to Build a Better Workplace

I found this interview with Great Place to Work Institute (GPTW) CEO Michael Bush a helpful read on culture. The article is sprinkled with recent workforce research plus Bush’s experienced take on it. He talks about the importance of organizational trust, values-based leadership, and the conscious business movement. “Leadership has a responsibility to manage the culture. By managing it, I mean you’ve got to measure it.”

(March 2017)