Leading in the Stakeholder Era

According to a recent HBR article, Hubert Joly, previous CEO of Best Buys and author of  The Heart of Business, advises business executives to focus on purpose and people and profits will follow. He also emphasized this importance in a recent coaching webinar.  The pandemic crisis and societal unrest over injustices truly demonstrated the interconnectedness of organizational well-being, employee well-being and societal well-being. There is no denying that businesses cannot thrive if employees, customers, and communities as well as the environment are not healthy. 

Joley notes that lip service and policies without action will not lead to the change needed.  The well-being of all stakeholders must be the focus. His message is not new and has been expounded by others over the last several years from the must read for any company moving to become ‘Teal’ by Frederic Laloux, Reinventing Organizations, to Firms of Endearment, by Raz Sisodia, to the BCorporation mantra: “Business leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good” (https://bcorporation.net).

The purpose of business is not just to increase profits for shareholders but to contribute the common good. This is more apparent than ever.  Corporations that have adopted this focus, what many describe as reinventing capital and putting the ‘human’ aspect of business first, out-performed the S&P 500 14-fold over more than a decade.

This approach to a more human-focused organization certainly requires a sound business model, but also a more collaborative partnership and shared goal or purpose among stakeholders to drive the mission. This requires getting leaders and managers on board and developing the skills to be able to effectively communicate with as well as coach employees. There are many options depending on your needs and issues, but these skills can be learned and practiced. 

To quote Joley, “For business to be part of the solution to our collective challenges, we leaders must see companies not as soulless moneymaking entities but as “human organizations” made of individuals working together in support of a shared goal.”

Here is the HBR Article

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