In my last blog entry, I discussed the power of meaning to serve as a competitive advantage. Here, I introduce the idea that meaning creation can also serve as a compassionate advantage as well.
In fact, Harvard professors Rakesh Khurana and Joel Podolny indicate that there is more to meaning-making than just its potential for competitive advantage: “We believe there is a connection between meaning creation and performance. Meaning can be the foundation of sustainable competitive advantage. Our only concern is that the significance of meaning creation not be subordinated to a concern with performance. Meaning creation is too important as an end in and of itself.” 28 Said another way, facilitating meaning is just the right thing to do. It’s how managers can give others a compassionate advantage. When all is said and done, if given the means and opportunity, why wouldn’t we endeavor to create a truly fulfilling workplace environment for our fellow human beings? Why not have the compassion and consideration to make the lives of others as enriching and meaningful as possible?
At the most fundamental level, we all crave meaning in our lives. It cannot be underestimated just how deep this desire runs. To have meaning in our lives is at the core of what it means to be a human being. To have meaning is to sort through our 24/7 workload and mounting stress and suddenly have comprehension – an understanding of why we are here on this earth and an understanding of who we are and that what we do matters. A deep and quiet joy accompanies this understanding. Why not give others every advantage we can at work towards enabling a deeply happier life?
And by the way, facilitating the derivation of meaning for others will be deeply meaningful for you too.
In future entries for the Make Work Matter blog, we’ll discuss just how to make meaning such that everyone profits – the company, and all its constituents (including you).
1 Lagace, M., How to Put Meaning Back into Leading (January 10, 2005), HBS Working Knowledge, hbswk.hbs.edu.
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