Let’s keep this short. We are on the wrong path of shareholder value and personal brand. What this combination leads to is self-centeredness and short-term actions that leave the future in worse condition than today. A better path exists. We see an emerging better path through CEO activism.

While CEO and business leader activism provides hope, we need to begin now.

A quick review of the needed shifts.

Create a Societal Brand

The first is on creating a societal brand instead of a personal one. Creating a societal brand is about how you do certain things. The key societal brand questions to answer include:

  • How you solve problems?
  • How you add perspective?
  • How you participate in meetings and conversations?
  • How you start? How you finish?

Societal branding asks many more “how” questions. How we collaborate is who we really are. Woven into these questions is a mindset. A societal brand mindset knows betterment is a key part of the formula because we only get better as individuals when we get better as a society.

Create Collaborative Value

Rather than maximizing shareholder value, business leaders need to create collaborative value. Collaborative value builds between functions and actions. The space between functions, like marketing and sales, is vital to creating collaborative value. Rather than just steamrolling through the functions, understanding the goals of each and then determining the higher value through a combined functional strategy is where we elevate our outcomes. Business is more than a series of hand-offs. Collaborative mindsets and actions mean we join to do better work.

Maximizing collaborative value is not contained within the four walls of a business. When a community is included, collaborative value grows exponentially. We need to think and act outside the business and include our community of stakeholders.

Create a New Corporate Citizenship Model

When we put societal brand and collaborative value together, we begin to see a better model. If nothing else, we see the pitfalls from a more narrowed focus.

corporate citizenship model

Self-Centered Demise.

With a focus on maximizing shareholder value and personal brand, the result is everyone out for themselves. The business focuses on winning at all costs, and integrity is usually lost here. The individual focuses on personal positioning, and a shallowness emerges. When combined, deceit and superficiality never create positive results. We need to skip this model now.

Corporate Social Responsibility.

The intent of Corporate Social Responsibility is good. Implementing sustainability initiatives have good outcomes. Contributing to good works or charitable organizations helps build a better community. However, with maximizing shareholder value still active, corporate social responsibilities just put a smile on lopsided business operations.

Freelance Citizenship.

Maximizing collaborative value creates a good culture to produce better results. However, if employees are focused on personal branding, a disconnect exists. Personal branders focus on who their positioning rather than what their efforts and work can do in a larger, more meaningful context. Essentially, individuals become freelancers on the company payroll. Engagement suffers. Value stumbles.

Activated Citizenship.

Imagine the possibilities when the business is focused on maximizing collaborative value and employees are focused on creating a societal brand! Imagine is right because we have a long way to go to develop this new business and cultural model. How we begin to think the changes through and then implement them is important work to do.

Business Rights and Responsibilities

Businesses have rights. “We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights” by Adam Winkler is a must read in understanding how corporations gained their civil rights. When a past presidential candidate said that corporations are people, he was ridiculed. The reality is they are. Through the courts, corporations have been recognized as people to gain certain rights. With these rights, new responsibilities arise, and a new corporate citizenship model is required. Along with the model, a new view of business leader activism needs to be undertaken. Corporate citizens need to do more in society and within their organizational culture.

The question is: How we can move business into the upper right quadrant? Join me in thinking this through and offering your perspective. Leave your comments here or contact me directly.


Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash
Business rights and responsibilities - they have both. A new corporate citizenship model highlights the shift needed. Are you ready to activate?