Monday, April 26, 2021

The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism (Hubert Joly)

Hubert Joly is a former executive at several businesses. While at Best Buy, he helped engineer a turnaround of the electronics retailer and guided it out of a period of declining sales and uncertainty about its future into a stronger, more profitable place. The Heart of Business is his recipe for how business leaders should operate and how capitalism should be rethought in order to better serve our world.

Joly’s philosophy is interspersed with anecdotes from his career. He shares his beliefs that putting people at the center of the business and treating profit as an outcome are better than pursuing the classic strategy of maximizing profit. He cites increased employee engagement, lower turnover, and better customer service metrics as reasons to pursue these objectives.

The Heart of Business also advocates a position that business leaders need to speak out and take a more active role in political matters. Whether you agree with that position personally or not, Joly’s idea of advocating a more humane approach to business is very sound and valuable in today’s environment. I wish he had devoted more energy to his chapter on “the purposeful leader”, where he advocates five “be’s” as strategies for leaders to better themselves. Only seeing these strategies take up a few pages, given they were the strength of the book, was a bit of a letdown. That said, I appreciated Joly’s approach to leadership and articulating his vision for businesses to operate and execute differently.