A Culture of Purpose: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: May 9th, 2014 by bobmorris

Culture:PurposeA Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You
Christoph Lueneburger
Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Brand (2014)

A brilliant analysis of perhaps the single most important dimension of organizational alignment

Accord to Jim Collins in Good to Great, one of the greatest challenges in business is to “get the right people in the right seats.” Of even greater importance, I presume to add, “and on the right bus.” In competitive sports as in business, there must be an appropriate “fit” of person with position…and with associates…and with culture. The key consideration is proper alignment of worker, tasks, and workplace environment. Most mergers fail or at least fall far short of original expectations. Why? One of the most common reasons is incompatible cultural values.

I agree with Christoph Lueneburger: “What is the most important challenge for a twenty-first century leader? Building a culture of purpose.” In this book, he explains how to build one or strengthen one that already exists. “The attributes at the core of a culture of purpose are energy, resilience, and openness. Because cultures are made up of people — and each shapes the other, from the core to the frontier — the three sets of building blocks depend on and influence each other.”

Recent and extensive research on what can be learned from exit interviews of highly-valued workers reveals that they do not feel that they and their efforts are appreciated, and, that they see little (if any) social value in what they are asked to do. Other research studies indicate that, on average, less than 30% of a U.S. company’s workforce is actively and productively engaged; the other 80+% are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”) or actively engaged in undermining the success of the company.

It is no coincidence that many of the companies that are annually ranked among those that are most highly-regarded and best to work for are also ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their industry. However different these companies may be in most respects, all of them have a culture of purpose whose attributes are energy, resilience, and openness.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Leuneberger’s coverage.

o Change Leadership (Pages 15-16)
o Mini-Case Study: How Frank O’Brien-Bernini Rejuvenated Owens Corning (16-26)
o Influencing Others by Embracing Their Problems (31-34)
o Discovering the Leader: Markers for the Competency of Influencing (43-45)
o Results Delivery (47-50)
o Discovering the Leader: Markers for the Competency if Results Delivery (61-63)
> Markers for the Competency of Commercial Drive (79-80)
o Strategic Orientation (82-85)
o Making Sustainability Hip (90-93)
o Discovering the Leader: Markers for the Competency of Strategic Orientation (93-95)
o Engagement on Leaders (101-104)
o Understanding the Person:
> Markers for the Trait of Engagement (115-117)
> Markers for the Trait of Determination (133-134)
> Markers for the Trait of Insight (148-149)
o The Primacy of Curiosity (156-158)
o Understanding the Person: Markers for the Trait of Curiosity (161-163)
o Understanding the Culture: Markers for the Trait of Energy (182-183)
> Markers for the Trait of Resilience (197-199)
> Markers for the Trait of Openness (212-213)

Note: The various references to “markers” indicate especially important, indeed defining characteristics of what is essential to effective leadership, to the personal growth and professional development of individuals, and to the ongoing health of organizations.

With regard to the sequence of building a culture of purpose, “Three things are worth pointing out. First, this journey is not linear and monolithic throughout an organization…Second, the building blocks described [i.e. energy, resilience, and openness.] are cumulative…Third, the middle part of this transformation, the conscious transition from reactive to proactive, is the hardest hit.” Given the opportunities for personal growth and professional development as well as for organizational transformation, opportunities that otherwise would probably not be available, efforts to “marry purpose to profit” will be well worth it for everyone involved.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

bobmorris