IN THIS SUMMARY
In Common Purpose, Joel Kurtzman utilizes his 30 years of experience to explore the central question of leadership: what is common purpose, and how can it be achieved? If a common purpose is defined, understood, and internalized, an organization’s chances of success are greatly increased. Common purpose, Kurtzman says, is when a leader is able to align members of an organization with a goal. Kurtzman advocates for flat organizations that cultivate curiosity and a sense of unity within the workplace. He advocates for the end of the traditional corporate chain of command, which can often result in a toxic work environment and a failed organization. A successful leader not only cultivates curiosity, he or she encourages the exchange of ideas, gives people the authority to act on their own, does not second guess them, and allows them to perform at their utmost potential. He cites such successes as the long-lasting Proctor & Gamble and the well-praised Apple, but also cites stalemates such as GM’s former chairman, who took a private jet to ask Congress for a bailout. These examples, along with many more interviews from various heads of organizations in a multitude of fields, are lessons of how CEOs can save their companies by listening to their employees, or fail by insulating themselves from the rest of the group. Kurtzman suggests that leadership is evolving with the surfacing of Generation X and Y in the workforce. He projects that leaders of the future will be more empathetic, more caring, and will likely create organizations modeled after successes such as Apple or Wynn Resorts. Kurtzman believes that people genuinely want to work at organizations that have the common purpose of changing the world for the better. He believes that this need will allow companies of the future to reach their full potential.