“Mankind was my business.” (A leadership lesson from the ghost of Jacob Marley)
Peter Drucker said the only valid purpose for a business is “to create a customer.” Yes, profits are necessary, but Drucker adds that “the customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence. He alone gives employment.”
What does Wiki Answers say? According to Wiki, “the purpose of a business is to fill a need. Money comes after.”
These are all well and good. And yes, profits ARE necessary.
However, in Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Jacob Marley warns Ebenezer Scrooge of the perils of focusing only on profits at the expense of his responsibility to others. He tells Ebenezer:
“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
So… what is the business of any leader? To make a difference in the lives of others– employees and their families, customers, suppliers, and even shareholders. Yes, we need to ensure the organization is profitable AND do well by our fellow men and women.
During this holiday season, what can you do to demonstrate that mankind is your business? Let me know your ideas.
About the author:
John Hester is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read John’s posts on the second Thursday of every month.