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The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win [Kindle Edition]

David Ulrich , Wendy Ulrich , Marshall Goldsmith
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description



"Principled, timely, and engaging, The Why of Work teaches that building a culture of abundance and common purpose is essential to organizational success."

--Stephen R. Covey, bestselling author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"Will have a major impact on how individuals shape their attitude to work, how organizations create abundant cultures, and how leaders turn personal meaning into public good."

--Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan

"The Why of Work shows a better, different way to build and lead organizations. It is an insightful guide to how leaders can infuse meaning into their organizations."

--Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don't

"This book brings the question 'why' to the place in which we spend most of our adult lives, giving us insightful tools to help make a meaningful difference in people's lives."

--Don Hall, Jr., president and CEO, Hallmark Cards, Inc.

"This is a must read for anyone who works, leads others at work, or works to build a supportive environment."

--Beverly Kaye, founder/CEO, Career Systems International, and coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

"The Why of Work opens the door to significant employee engagement. The alignment between company values and those of customers and communities can indeed give employees a sense of purpose while delivering great results to customers!"

--Paula S. Larson, Chief HR Officer, Invesys

"Blackstone has proved that finding superior leaders produces superior results. Dave Ulrich has brought this thinking to a new level at Blackstone. Every private equity investor and senior manager must read this book."

--James Quella, Senior Operating Partner, The Blackstone Group

According to studies, we all work for the same thing--and it's not just money. It's meaning. Through our work, we seek a sense of purpose, contribution, connection, value, and hope. Digging down to the meaning of work taps our resilience in hard times and our passion in good times. That's the simple but profound premise behind this groundbreaking book by renowned management expert Dave Ulrich and psychologist Wendy Ulrich. They've talked to thousands of people--from rank-and-file workers to clients and customers to top-level executives--and synthesized major disciplines to identify the "why" behind our most successful experiences.

Using the model of the "abundant organization," they provide you with the "how" to create meaning and value in your own workplace. Learn how to:

  • Ask the seven questions that drive abundance
  • Understand the needs of your customers and staff
  • Personalize the work to motivate your employees
  • Build and grow your business in any economy

By following the Ulrichs' step-by-step guidelines, you will set off a chain reaction of positive and enduring effects. Employees who fi nd meaning in their work are more competent, committed, and eager to contribute—and their contribution will result in increased customer commitment, which delivers a winning performance on the bottom line.

The Why of Work includes targeted checklists, questionnaires, and other useful tools to help you turn aspirations into action. Using the proven principles of abundance, you can coordinate your needs with those of your employers, your employees, and your customers--and create a vision that resonates for years to come. When you understand why we work, you know how to succeed.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The authors, a consultant and a psychologist, set out to help leaders (within and outside organizations) understand the meaning and purpose of work. We learn that as employees find meaning in their efforts, they contribute to creating value for customers, investors, and communities; hence, finding meaning is good for business. The Ulrichs offer seven disciplines, each with a unique perspective, that leaders can use to build meaning in their organizations or personally, identifying these disciplines with extensive interviews of a wide range of individuals, through training programs for numerous executives and human resource professionals, and by researching academic sources on meaning and living well. These seven disciplines include positive psychology, social responsibility, and employee engagement. This book is an infomercial and handbook for the authors’ teaching/consulting efforts and they emphatically conclude that meaning matters for good business, but also “for the hearts and souls of millions of people who get up and go to work every day.” --Mary Whaley

About the Author

About the Authors
Dave Ulrich
's work passion has been how to build organization capabilities (systems, processes, cultures) that create value to multiple stakeholders, then to help leaders build intangible value in organizations. Working with over half of the Fortune 200 and with companies throughout the world, he provides seminars, writes books, and coaches leaders to build sustainable organizations by turning customer and investor expectations into personal and organizational actions. He helps leaders move beyond employee engagement to helping employees find real meaning from work. He is a professor of business at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and co-founder of The RBL Group. He has written 15 books covering topics in HR and Leadership; is currently on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller; is a Fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources; and is on the Board of Trustees of Southern Virginia University.

Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D., has been a psychologist in private practice in Michigan for over twenty years. She is founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth in Utah, offering seminar-retreats on abundance. Their work with organizations and individuals intersects at helping people find meaning at work. Dave works to rethink and redefine how organizations work and Wendy works to help individuals rethink and redefine their own lives. At the same time, they are committed to the importance of the organization's responsibility to shareholders and investors as they respond to external conditions.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of purpose-driven abundance June 6, 2010
Dave and Wendy Ulrich organize the material in this book within a framework of seven questions. As you review the list, begin to formulate your answers.

1. What am I known for?
2. Where am I going?
3. Whom do I travel with?
4. How do I build a positive work environment?
5. What challenges interest me?
6. How do I respond to disposability and change?
7. What delights me?

They devote a separate chapter to each of these seven questions, focusing on real-world situations in which various people address the given issues each query raises. Perhaps your initial responses to the questions have begun to suggest what you would like to change. Perhaps they have evoked others. For example, which of the seven are the easiest for you to answer? Which are the most difficult? Is the answer to any one of them of greater importance to you than any others?

In the Preface, the Ulrichs explain what they hope their book will accomplish. They seem wholeheartedly committed to helping their reader to add substantial value in all areas of her or his own life (notably family, career, and community), and also to help their reader help others to do so. There are frequent references to meaning or the absence thereof. The Ulrichs share their thoughts and feelings about both the "why" and the "how" of meaning at work. "The why refers to the human search for meaning that finds its way into our offices and factories, a search that motivates, inspires, and defines us. The how gets us into the practicalities of how leaders facilitate that search personally and among their employees." Purpose gives both meaning and value to such initiatives.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.... October 11, 2011
Finally a non-academic book that connects meaning-making to the workplace. Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly, IMNSHO:

The Good: The Ulrichs make a case that the need for meaning is a fundamental drive in humans (not a new notion by any means), therefore we should we should expect that it a major factor in engagement at work. People want to find their work meaningful. Thus, organizations and leaders who provide an "abundant" work environment wherein people can find or make a meaningful worklife will be more engaging and ultimately more successful. The book offers some practical ways leaders can make this happen.

The Bad: There isn't anything really 'bad" per se in this volume. However, there is a weakness. The first part of the book is devoted to making the case for the human need for meaning. The Ulrichs cite Viktor Frankl's work to bolster their case. I love Fankl's work, have studied Logotherapy extensively, and was even fortunate enough to have attended a workshop of his while he was still with us. However, Frankl's work (and life) was remarkable in that he was able to find meaning in the most adverse of circumstances and environments -- a Nazi concentration camp. While some of us may have to survive toxic work environments, I doubt any are as dehumanizing as a Nazi concentration camp. This is where the book falls down. The latter portion of the book is all about creating work environments that serve as healthy augers for meaning-making. But Frankl did it in the unhealthiest of environments. What advice do the Ulrichs offer those who work in less optimal work settings? None. This is a weakness in my opinion. Maybe they're holding it back for a sequel?

The Ugly: In one section BP is held up as an example of corporate social responsibility. Oops.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can Become a Meaning Maker June 13, 2010
Dave and Wendy Ulrich collaborated to create a real gem on how leaders can influence whether workers perceive their work as meaningful and why that is so important. Essentially their recommendations, based on extensive research and experience in organizations and psychology, provide a guide to create meaning that results in tangible value to employees, customers, investors, and communities. Sound too good to be true? It's not -- leaders can help employees build professional friendships which brings meaning to relationships; leaders can facilitate building personal strengths and expand organizational capabilities, both essential to increasing performance and results. There is no fluff in The Why of Work -- read it and become a meaning maker.

Sheryl Dawson
COO, Total Career Success, Inc.
Co-Author, Job Search: The Total System (3rd Ed)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 Questions That we all should ask ourselves. June 9, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dave & Wendy Ulrich have produced not just a guide for becoming a better leader and organization but they have created a way for all of us to ask 7 core questions of ourselves on our journey to a more abundant life.

The key highlight for me early in the book is when it is written that "When we find meaning in our work, we find meaning in Life". It was then that I realized that this was not just another book that will help me find better balance in my work but in my life. We do spend more time at work than anywhere else and to think that the two can be managed separately is crazy! This book brings the two together in a meaningful and thoughtful way.

Wrapped around 7 key questions makes the book an easy read and perfect road map to happier work and a more meaniful relationships in and out of work. My favorite question is "What Delights Me?". What a wonderful way to identify what we really value and what makes us happy.

I recommend it for reading by business leaders, future business leaders and anyone looking for a more meaningful and abundant life!

Well done Dave & Wendy and thank you.

Chester Elton
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear thoughts on leadership
I really enjoyed the book. The 7 principles and exercises that go along with the principles are very useful. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Johnny k
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Inspiring Book on HR
This is a widely researched book with interesting findings. It contains anecdotes, inspiring examples and illustrations. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Professor M.S.Rao, International Leadership Expert and Author of 30 Books on Leadership
2.0 out of 5 stars I did not enjoy this book
I did not enjoy this book. The individuals have a lot of real world experience, but their suggestions do not seem to translate well into real world applications. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lou L.
5.0 out of 5 stars Employers as meaning makers
Strong narrative building the connection of meaning & everything else that matters at work.
Completely agree with Dave's point of view - time has changed - as leaders of today... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Michael Bongardt
5.0 out of 5 stars working for a living
Most of use, gets up every day and do work, that is if we are not independently wealthy. In the book The Why of Work by Dave Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich the reader is taken to a review... Read more
Published on January 24, 2013 by Dr. Wilson Trivino
3.0 out of 5 stars IBM Competitive Edge Book Club Selects Book in Q3 2010
The IBM Competitive Edge Book Club, open to all Sales, Marketing, and Communication professionals at IBM, voted and selected "The Why of Work" as the Q3 2010 book selection. Read more
Published on September 3, 2011 by Brien Convery
5.0 out of 5 stars Are there two people you should know?
David and Wendy Ulrich. Why? Most likely you will spend over 40 years of your life working and most of that will be with people. Read more
Published on August 31, 2011 by Steve Kovich
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book
This book is getting at some very core issues in a very practical way. It raises a lot of questions about the purpose of business and the nature of interactions inside companies -... Read more
Published on July 27, 2011 by Frank Sadowski
3.0 out of 5 stars Wordy, but needed advice.
On a recent business trip, I cut some Sherlock Holmes browsing on my Kindle to, like a addict, stroll into another bookstore. Read more
Published on June 20, 2011 by Michael A. Robson
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Philosophy of Work from the World's Premier Author in Human...
Dave Ulrich is a the top of the totem pole among writers on human resource management. In the Why of Work, he teams up with his psychologist wife, Wendy, to deliver an inspiring... Read more
Published on January 1, 2011 by Amazon Customer
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