Defining Success

Success – What is it and by Whose Standard is it Measured?

Cuba Gallery: Summer / white flowers / blue background / nature / color / macro / butterfly

To quote the great Ralph Waldo Emerson . . .

To laugh often and love much, to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children, to earn the approbation of honest critics, and to endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of oneself.

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know that one has breathed easier because you have lived – To have succeeded.

Recently I delivered a speech at a Midwest company, as an opening to an off-site retreat. The head of the business unit introduced me, and in his introduction he said “Remember, we’re not here to be nice people. We’re here to produce shareholder value, to make the stock more valuable. That’s why corporations exist. That is the only measure by which we succeed or fail as a company, and by which we succeed or fail as leaders.”

I want to pose a question to you . . . do you really believe that?  Do organizations exist only to move the stock price up?

Don’t organizations exist to serve a need? Maybe the needs of a consumer who wants a dishwasher to save time and energy. Maybe the needs of another business that needs a widget to operate a key piece of machinery that delivers mail on time. Maybe a drug that cures cancer, or a breakfast bar that is easy to eat on the go . . . there are a million products and services, and without serving a need or desire, those products and services disappear quickly in a competitive marketplace. As a leader, is the only value you provide that of building shareholder value?

Join us Wednesday, December 8, when we look at a new movement in leadership – one that questions this “Wall Street Only” definition of success in business.

Until then, think about how you would have success defined in your own life and how you would like the success of your company, team and goals measured.

Next week . . . the Triple Bottom Line – Success: a new standard of measurement.


About karlinsloan

Karlin Sloan has committed herself to finding out what makes great leaders tick, and to supporting leaders to be the change they wish to see in the world. As a corporate citizen she is an advocate for triple-bottom-line reporting, for creating sustainable ways of working and living, and for creating positive organizational communities that work together for the greater good. She is the author of the acclaimed business book Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership which has been translated into Thai and Russian, UNFEAR: Facing Change in an Era of Uncertainty, and co-author of the 2012 book Lemonade: The Leaders Guide to Resilience at Work. For more information see or
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