People, Purpose and a Positive Brand

Much has been written the past few weeks about Greg Smith and his public reasons for disengaging from Goldman Sachs – with a lot of the discussion centered on the importance of corporate culture.

Employees don’t work in a vacuum. For better or worse, they’re greatly impacted by “the way things are done around here” and what actions get rewarded and reinforced; i.e., behaviors that reflect a company’s culture and values.

Sure, a company needs profits to survive … but profit is only one of several components critical to sustainable success. A company also needs its employees, stakeholders, and partners associated with the enterprise to be aligned around a purpose that goes beyond pure profit. As these successful executives have learned:

“Maximum growth and high ideals are not incompatible; they’re inseparable. … A brand ideal of improving people’s lives is the only sustainable way to recruit, unite and inspire all the people a business touches, from employees to customers. Without that connection, no business can truly excel.” Jim Stengel, former global marketing officer at Procter & Gamble and author of Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies

“The companies that put profit before people are a vanishing breed. Companies big and small, with a multiple stakeholder approach to business, the ones that value their employees and customers as much as shareholders, are realizing that the financials only get better. If you want to make more money, focus on your people first. It’s not only the right thing to do. It’s good for business.” Paul Spiegelman, founder and CEO of the The Beryl Companies, in his article “Attention Goldman Sachs: Time to Buckle Down and Focus on Culture”

“Over time, as we focused more and more on our culture, we ultimately came to the realization that a company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand is just a lagging indicator of a company’s culture.” Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO and author of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

The bottom line: Focusing on people and purpose creates a strong culture and positive brand that helps drive profits.

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