Sunday, October 23, 2011

Enlightened corporate leadership

In a world where corporate leadership is dominated by a pursuit of growth and profit, it's encouraging to see some examples of enlightened leadership.  I initially came across this post from Tim O'Reilly saying,
"It was at this time that I formulated an image that I've used many times since: profit in a business is like gas in a car. You don't want to run out of gas, but neither do you want to think that your road trip is a tour of gas stations."
 He references a Huffington Post article in which Steve Jobs has this gem:
"My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products," Jobs told Isaacson. "[T]he products, not the profits, were the motivation. Sculley flipped these priorities to where the goal was to make money. It's a subtle difference, but it ends up meaning everything."
And back to Tim O'Reilly,
"What's so great about the Apple story is that Steve ended up making enormous amounts of money without making it a primary goal of the company. (Ditto Larry and Sergey at Google.) ...  Making money through true value creation driven by the desire to make great things that last, and make the world a better place - that's the heart of what is best in capitalism. "
This sort of thinking is also represented clearly in the book Firms of Endearment.  The world would be a better place if more business leaders would focus their corporate energy into something they are deeply passionate about and allow profit and growth to be a nice side effect.  Who knows, maybe Jobs' legacy will be to inspire a generation of leadership that has the courage and confidence to passionately believe in what their doing and stop with the "growth/profit as a primal focus" meme.

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