Leadership matters even more when you have to symbolize purpose and values as well as look to the future. People look at what leaders do, not just what they say. So leaders have to model the values. They have to put their investments behind the sense of purpose. If P&G had let the Children’s Safe Water program wither just on financial grounds, employees would have looked at top management and said, “You don’t mean those words.”
Leaders also need two additional characteristics beyond the things we’ve always said they need.
They need to be great systems thinkers.
They’ve always needed that, but they need it even more as they look beyond the walls of the company. They manage their purpose through networks of partners. In fact, one of the values of these companies is end-to-end responsibility, the idea that you are responsible for your supplier’s supplier and your customer’s customer.
We also need leaders who are relationship-oriented, willing to have partners sit at the table, willing to sometimes put their own ego in check. Leaders need to feel they are safeguarding the future of the institution, not just managing a current portfolio of assets. These leaders have a sense of now and of generations to come.
Sam Palmisano said in one of the quotes I like best in the book: “Managers come and go, the business portfolio changes, so the only thing that endures is our culture.”