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A Culture of Purpose: How to Choose the Right People and Make the Right People Choose You Hardcover – April 7, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118814568
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118814567
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Christoph Lueneburger author of book A Culture of Purpose
Christoph Lueneburger
Q&A with Christoph Lueneburger, author of A Culture of Purpose
What is a culture of purpose?

Culture, at its core, is the set of beliefs and customs—the kinds of thinking and behaving—that characterize a group of people. Organizations have cultures also, and purpose introduces a shared vision with impact beyond the organization itself. A culture of purpose inspires a meaningful number of people to do the “right” things in pursuit of a bold, inspirational ideal (rather than committing them to do things right in service of self-centered metrics, like profitable growth or shareholder value). Cultures of purpose are not theoretical constructs: you’ll know them by the passion and intent of their people, the trust among them, and their intolerance of cynicism.

A number of books have been written on sustainability. How is yours different?

I did not set out to write a book on sustainability, but rather one that describes successful, lasting organizational cultures that have toppled business-as-usual. Because sustainability is so vital to such organizations and the people who shape them, it’s fair to ask how this book is different. Lots of books have been written about sustainability, some very good. These books are largely about the “why” and the “how” of sustainability. But the “how” can be fleeting in the sense that yesterday’s best practice quickly becomes today’s common practice. A Culture of Purpose pursues a different route by focusing on the “who” and the “where”—it offers an actionable description of the kinds of people who build lasting organizations and the kinds of places that attract them. Once you bring such people into a culture that embraces them, in my experience, the “how” will take care of itself.


You use the phrase “sustainable business” often? What do you mean by the term?

A sustainable business is one that both continuously asks itself what it will take to stay true to its purpose and is prepared to act on whatever the answer implies, even if difficult or uncomfortable. Although that’s usually simple, it is rarely easy because this kind of business surrenders a good bit of its hierarchy. Its leaders push far more autonomy to the frontier—the warehouses and check-out counters— and have learned to be comfortable with the notion of distributed experimentation and failure as the price of nimbleness and innovation. This autonomy is justified because the best and most passionate people are as much attracted by the purpose of the organization as they are aligned by it. Wherever that balance works, the business is very likely to last.

Why are cultures of purpose built with sustainability in mind?

Cultures of purpose can be built in different ways. Sustainability is one of those ways; it just happens to be the most consistently effective one. That’s because being sustainable as a business, at its core, not only requires thinking both long-term and integratively but also reveals organizational values, or perhaps more accurately the value placed on things other than the next quarterly profits. It is those values that attract passionate people, and it is those people who substantiate and further shape the culture.

Can any organization build a culture of purpose?

Yes, so long as it is prepared to ask difficult questions and pursue the change implicit in answering them. For some organizations, to be fair, doing so will lead to the conclusion that they need to fundamentally change the business they are in. But once you get a critical mass of the right kinds of people, the momentum is on your side because they will ask the difficult questions. And they will claim their right to take action. If you, as a leader, can get comfortable bringing on and empowering such people, you have the ingredients for a culture of purpose.

Review

“I loved this easy-to-read and inspiring book. Two thumbs up.”
—Scott Goodson, The Huffington Post

“A Culture of Purpose will not only help you achieve success, it will help you sustain success by building organizations motivated by long-term meaning.”
—Marshall Goldsmith, author, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

“Successful companies see sustainability not as a noun, but as an adjective that applies to everything they do: sustainable operations, sustainable solutions, sustainable opportunities, sustainable profits. In A Culture of Purpose, Christoph Lueneburger provides compelling examples of how this comprehensive approach can give an organization a sense of deeper meaning, as it does at Dow.”
—Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company

“Christoph Lueneburger breaks new ground with a fascinating analysis of the leadership attributes and organizational characteristics that will distinguish successful companies in the twenty-first century. A Culture of Purpose should be read by anyone seeking to break out of the constraints of traditional approaches.”
—Steve Miller, chairman, AIG

“The challenge of climate change demands leaders who are comfortable making decisions under uncertainty, and focused on the long term while driving for more immediate results. In A Culture of Purpose, Christoph Lueneburger shares powerful stories of some of the leaders on this journey and the cultures they are building.”
—Rachel Kyte, group vice president, Climate Change Group, The World Bank

“If you’re like me, you learn best from stories, and A Culture of Purpose bursts with stories of leaders whose commitment to sustainability took their organizations to a stronger, purpose-driven future. Christoph Lueneburger parses the core elements of success that guided these leaders, offering an actionable roadmap for building a culture of purpose.”
—Rick Ridgeway, vice president, environmental affairs, Patagonia

“Sustainability is not an intellectual luxury; it’s fundamental to achieving business goals at Lands’ End. In A Culture of Purpose, Christoph Lueneburger shares the actionable and wise counsel that we have relied on to inspire our employees and strengthen our company.”
—Edgar Huber, CEO, Lands’ End

“As sustainability matures from corporate social responsibility to a strategic imperative, embedding it in corporate culture can elude even savvy executives. Through thoughtful analysis of how leaders successfully transformed organizations across industries, compelling stories, and practical advice, Christoph Lueneburger brilliantly inspires with an actionable business case for a purpose-driven culture.”
—Roxanne Decyk, board director, Petrofac and Snap-On, and former EVP, government relations, Shell

“In A Culture of Purpose, Christoph Lueneburger provides an effective framework for building a culture that will drive transformative, sustainable change in an organization. A Culture of Purpose provides compelling stories and valuable insights about identifying the right people and motivating them with a passion-driven narrative to create cultures of purpose: not just what to do, but how to do it. If you want to understand companies and institutions for which the means and the ends are equally purposeful, and to emulate the leaders who sustain those organizations, this book is for you.”
—Ann Sarnoff, chief operating officer, BBC Americas

“Visionary, practical, excellent. Christoph Lueneburger offers established and aspiring leaders new insights and better ways for creating and then advancing the kind of culture required to solve the world’s biggest problems. From my experience as a leader across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, I know that the common imperative for all leaders is building that culture. There is no shortcut to this result, but A Culture of Purpose provides a roadmap.”
—Lois Quam, chief operating officer, The Nature Conservancy

“At the heart of Christoph Lueneburger’s book is the understanding that sustainability is not just a commercial necessity and increasingly the driver of profit, but a magnet for talent. If you want to build a passionate organization with impact and meaning, A Culture Of Purpose will triumphantly and practically lead the way.”
—Lord Deben, former UK Secretary of State for the Environment and chairman, Valpak


More About the Author

Christoph Lueneburger is a partner at Egon Zehnder, a global leader in leadership strategy services, board consulting, and executive search. A fluid dynamicist and former private equity investor, he founded the firm's Sustainability Practice, which grew to a market-leading position under his leadership. Christoph now heads the firm's global private equity practice.

Christoph's career started in the specialty materials sector, where he holds multiple patents and rose to run a European manufacturer. Transitioning to private equity, he then focused on deals in the water sector. He began to think begrudgingly about sustainability while carrying cases of imported sparkling water to the fourth-story flat of his then-fiancée in Paris.

Venturing beyond the intersection of value creation and talent, Christoph has designed and built a game-changing rowing shell and also imagines himself to be the only person to have traversed Alaska's Mt. McKinley and Timbuktu's Niger Valley within the same month. At the top of his bucket list is riding the Pan-American Highway by motorcycle.

Christoph has lived and worked in the United States, Canada, France, and Germany and is a fellow at the Aspen Institute. He now resides in New York with his wife and daughter.

More at cultureofpurpose.com

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This is a great book that every manager should read.
Dr. Who, What, Where?
This is a book about people— individuals and teams— who are defining what leadership means in the 21st Century.
Paul Ellingstad
Christoph uses tangible examples and experiences applicable to most business situations.
chantal

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erik Gfesser VINE VOICE on May 31, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The content presented in this work, while centering on building cultures of purpose in organizations, also focuses on sustainability because Lueneburger has determined from experience and research that sustainability provides the most reliable blueprint for assembling the building blocks upon which cultures of purpose are built over time. In this sense, sustainability is seen as a means to an end. As explained by the author, "purpose" introduces a shared intent with impact beyond the organization itself, a pledge to do what is thought to be right, going beyond profitable growth, shareholder value, or any other measure of whether things are being done right.

The author interviewed board chairpersons, CEOs, and chief sustainability officers during the course of writing this book, who have come to the conclusion that sustainability is a primary focus of new recruits who are looking not just for jobs but for meaning. As explained by the author in the introduction, mission-led companies vastly outperform the market, and so the time has never been so critical for leaders to focus on building cultures of purpose. The war for talent is real, and the talent economy is gravitating toward cultures of purpose where meaning is seen to be pervasive rather reflected in window-dressing policies about composting and charitable giving.

This book is organized into thirteen chapters across four parts that discuss placing leaders with a purpose at the core (about 40% of the content), hiring talent with a purpose at the frontier, building a culture of purpose, and taking action (one chapter at less than 10% of the content).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hellmut Glaser on May 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An excellent analytical book with powerful stories written in a light conversational style. Not only on sustainability or hiring the right people but very much on how organizations can change lead by people with vision and conviction. My favorite chapter “Openess” trusting, admitting, not fudging data, a great combination for success. All change is traumatic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cape Codder on April 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Where most business books fail so thoroughly--advancing theory without presenting examples from actual practice--this book truly soars. It is that rare business book that is not only a good read, but a valuable resource. I literally could not put it down until I had read it cover-to-cover. And I am an old dog who has covered a lot of ground.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
“A Culture of Purpose” is a book about getting a team together and then letting the team go to work. The book focuses a lot on inspiring sustainability, as in ecological sustainability within an organization, while at the same time improving the profits of a company or organization. This part of the book may be more interesting to some than it is for others. That aside, the book does a good job of telling you what traits to look for in people and how to draw those out, and appreciate them and their place in an organization while empowering them to make decisions and run with the mission.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matt Ellis on April 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Sustainability as the best untapped mechanism for growth: it’s an idea that smashes the caricature of sustainability as risk mitigation technique or cost control mechanism and instead displays it in its rightful form: growth opportunity. Christoph has rightly focused on sustainability as a vessel that can take your organization into the Blue Ocean, which is a breath of fresh air, but he’s also backed that assertion up using quality case studies to chart that vessel’s course. His insights into human capital and culture are an essential compliment to any sustainability practitioner or manager's attempt to create a Culture of Purpose.
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Format: Hardcover
An inspiring book that every business leader who wants to build a business and a team for the long term should read. Christoph uses tangible examples and experiences applicable to most business situations. His approach allows us all to start making steps in the right direction, today. Using the corporate structure in place with a clear sense of purpose and an empowered, determined team allows a new path to be taken.

Harry Dolman, COO & Managing Director, HPE Growth Capital
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By littleme on July 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
reading this book has helped me become a better leader. a better boss. it validates what I have held true and has taught me a few new things as well. a must read for anyone upper management to owner.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"A Culture of Purpose" immediately resonated with me when it came to my attention. The themes `culture' and `purpose' have always been top-of-mind for me whether I am involved in a commercial turn-around or start-up. I have learned first-hand that both are crucial to working through "rough patches," and for achieving long term success.

I have been surprised and disappointed over the years to observe how few "leaders" understand the role and the value of culture and purpose in creating a sustainable, winning organization. Those whom I consider real leaders get it, and many are profiled in books like this one, "The Soft Edge," "Boards that Lead," and many more. I attribute the leadership void I have observed to executive hubris and intellectual arrogance.

Fortunately, I have had good mentors and have worked for some great organizations - Honeywell (1970s) and American Hospital Supply Corporation (now integrated into Baxter, Edwards Healthcare, Cardinal Health, AMO, Carefusion, and others) - where culture and purpose were emphasized.

What is purpose? Purpose captures an idea that goes beyond profitable growth, shareholder value, or any other metric used to show progress and success. Purpose is transcendent; it is a direction that improves the lives of an organization's stakeholders; it is also a pledge to do the right things, inspiring a meaningful number of people to do the right thing. Then, what is a culture of purpose? A set of beliefs and customs, and the thinking and behaving ("It is glue, the way things work around here") that runs an organization and moves it towards its purpose.
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