How Do Great Companies Think Differently?

Today’s great companies have more than profit in mind.  Great companies today understand that their business is an intrinsic part of society.  They invest in the future while actively building on people and society.  According to ongoing research on admired and financially successful companies in more than 20 countries on four continents, Rosabeth Moss Kanter has discovered that these companies not only generate money but are also vehicles for accomplishing societal purposes and for providing meaningful livelihoods for those who work in them.  These corporations have a purpose and meet stakeholders’ needs in many ways:  by producing goods and services that improve the lives of users; by providing jobs and enhancing workers’ quality of life; by developing a strong network of suppliers and business partners; and by ensuring financial viability, which provides resources for improvements, innovations, and returns to investors.

In building an enduring institutional perspective, corporate leaders define their firm around its purpose and values.  Their actions produce societal value.  Their thrust is to balance public interest with financial returns.  Great companies are expanding their investments to include employee empowerment, emotional engagement, values-based leadership, and related societal contributions.

Reference:  Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the chair and director of Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.  (Harvard Business Review, November 2011 issue)


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