OB330/OB331 Leadership Fellows: Fulfillment & Meaning

Professor: Brian Lowery, Ricki Frankel and Hugh Keelan

Fulfillment & Meaning

Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee & Daniel Goleman. Reawakening Your Passion for WorkHarvard Business Review, Apr. 2002, Vol. 80(4): 86-94

All of us struggle from time to time with the question of personal meaning: "Am I living the way I want to live?" For millions of people, the attacks of September 11 put the issue front and center, but most of us periodically take stock of our lives under far less dramatic circumstances. This type of questioning is healthy; business leaders need to go through it every few years to replenish their energy, creativity, and commitment--and their passion for work. In this article, the authors describe the signals that it's time to reevaluate your choices and illuminate strategies for responding to those signals. Such wake-up calls come in various forms. Some people feel trapped or bored and may realize that they have adjusted to the frustrations of their work to such an extent that they barely recognize themselves. For others, the signal comes when they are faced with an ethical challenge or suddenly discover their true calling. Once you have realized that it's time to take stock of your life, there are strategies to help you consider where you are, where you're headed, and where you want to be. Many people find that calling a timeout--either in the form of an intense, soul searching exercise or a break from corporate life--is the best way to reconnect with their dreams. Other strategies include working with a coach, participating in an executive development program, scheduling regular time for self-reflection, and making small changes so that your work better reflects your values. People no longer expect their leaders to have all the answers, but they do expect them to try to keep their own passion alive and to support employees through that process.

Laura Nash; Howard Stevenson. Success That LastsHarvard Business Review, Feb 2004, 82(2):102-109

Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson interviewed and surveyed hundreds of professionals to study the assumptions behind the idea of success. They then built a practical framework for a new way of thinking about success--a way that leads to personal and professional fulfillment instead of feelings of anxiety and stress. The authors' research uncovered four irreducible components of success: happiness (feelings of pleasure or contentment about your life); achievement (accomplishments that compare favorably against similar goals others have strived for); significance (the sense that you've made a positive impact on people you care about); and legacy (a way to establish your values or accomplishments so as to help others find future success). Unless you hit on all four categories with regularity, any one win will fail to satisfy.

Howard H. Stevenson, Laura Scher, Daniel Vasella, Barbara H. Franklin, & Christina C. Jones. How to Change the WorldHarvard Business Review, Jan. 2008, Vol. 86(1), p29-39

Alan Wilson has a decision to make. The CEO of his company, Grepter, wants him to relocate to Zurich, where he can gain valuable experience for a rise to the top. Karl, his best friend, hopes to lure him to a hedge fund that promises big money fast. Shiori, an enticing former girlfriend, wants him to join her in delivering medical care to patients in developing countries. Alan knows for sure only that he wants to make an impact. Four experts comment on this fictional case study. Laura Scher, the CEO of Credo Mobile, advises Alan to consider what each option will deliver in terms of money, power, quality of life, and -- most important -- personal values. As long as he brings his values into the workplace, any of the three could be the right choice. Daniel Vasella, the CEO of Novartis, cautions Alan to examine what truly drives him, personally and professionally. All things considered -- not least the potential hazards of working with a friend -- his future looks most promising at Grepter. Barbara H. Franklin, the CEO of an international trade consulting and investment firm, thinks Alan would do well to join Shiori's enterprise. The experience with social policy might draw him to public service, where his impact on society could be significant. Christina C. Jones, the CEO of Extend Fertility, has also faced a variety of choices combined with an urge to do meaningful work. She believes that Alan should cultivate his skills at Grepter while developing a firmer notion of what he wants to be and do.

Supplemental: Work-life Balance