Common Purpose: Getting From Me to We

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Companies that achieve and sustain exceptional results over time are rare. Those that do are made up of people united by a common purpose—one that fosters hard work, sacrifice, and exemplary performance to accomplish the goals of the organization. Their leaders, whether at Disney, Google, or Staples, inspire a palpable sense of mission and provide the means for individuals to contribute as much as possible. Joel Kurtzman's "new rules of employment” to instill common purpose are based on years of research and numerous interviews with top executives. From American Express's Kenneth Chenault, to Michael Dell of Dell Inc., and Steve Wynn of Wynn Resorts, successful leaders align the interests of individuals with those of the organization. NASA in the 1960s, for example, offered employees a once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity to tackle what they couldn't do anywhere else, aligning their personal benefit with that of the space program. And they create leaders at every level of the organization by communicating and modeling what's expected, and then providing feedback and celebrating successes. Joel Kurtzman is chairman of the Kurtzman Group. He is also a senior fellow at the Milken Institute and Wharton's SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management. He is the author of 25 books, including Common Purpose: How Great Leaders Get Organizations to Achieve the Extraordinary.

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