Founding a company is like raising a child: You pass along your core values, then allow it to discover its way in the world. For Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, this means ceding some control to the company's stakeholders, and letting them play a significant role in shaping its destiny.
In an interview exclusively available on Big Think Mentor, John Mackey explains how smart leaders allow their company mission to evolve.
What’s the Big Idea? Successful entrepreneurs are passionate people. They want to make money, but they’re driven by a vision. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, uses the analogy of parenting. Parents have aspirations for their children. But successful parenting means reconciling your own values with your child’s evolving sense of self and purpose. Likewise, smart leaders allow their company mission to evolve. Building upon core principles, they learn from all of their stakeholders – employees, suppliers, customers, and shareholders. Together, they develop that mission as the business grows. In the case of Whole Foods, this kind of flexibility has resulted in a resilient, interdependent community of stakeholders passionate about “growing the pie” for their mutual benefit. These benefits extend not only to Whole Foods’ employees and partners, but also to the communities worldwide where the company does business.
What’s the Significance? Letting your business follow its own path can be difficult. There is the risk of losing control, of overextending your resources. Clearly, the evolution of a company’s purpose has to be managed intelligently. But the potential benefits are immeasurable. By valuing and incorporating the visions of your stakeholders, you can crowdsource ideas that keep the organization creatively competitive while honing its brand. You can create a community of evangelists committed to your success. And you can discover new, unexpected sources of vitality to drive your company’s future.
John Mackey's interview is available at Big Think Edge, an online learning platform that allows you to pick and choose the courses that best fit your goals. This platform consists of Big Think Mentor, a career path discovery toolkit, and Big Think Pro, a career development toolkit, designed to equip you with the skills you need to rise through the ranks of the professional world.