• Reconsidering servant leadership

    Fifty years ago, Robert Greenleaf wrote an essay called “The Servant as Leader”PDF that introduced the phrase servant leadership into the business lexicon. The notion offered an important counterweight to the command-and-control leadership style of that era, and it developed a wide following in the decades that followed, with countless companies and executives embracing servant leadership as a core management philosophy. Among the hundreds of CEOs I’ve interviewed over the years, dozens have told me that they believe in servant leadership. The concept has had a long and laudable run, worthy of a standing ovation. But I respectfully submit that it is time to retire the phrase. Before I marshal…

  • COVID fatigue is real, but don’t let it disrupt your recovery plans

    The COVID-19 crisis has now become, for better or for worse, “business as usual.” Despite the recent increase in cases in many parts of the world, the prospect of a vaccine becoming available in 2021 is quite rightly improving people’s outlook for the future. Over the last many months, we adjusted, cut costs, went remote, implemented new technology, bought sanitizer and masks, and reworked supply chains. And now we can start to make plans for a world that is not constrained by a pandemic. One response we’ve noticed during the pandemic, however, is a new kind of corporate fatalism about future crises that we’d warn against. COVID-19 blindsided even many…

  • USAA’s critical mission

    The Inside the Mind of the CEO interview series explores a wide range of critical decisions faced by chief executives around the world. For more insight, see PwC’s CEO Survey. USAA, an insurance company known for its devoted customer service, is a quiet giant in the industry. Based in San Antonio, USAA has a unique business model: It serves members of the military and their spouses and children, insuring their lives, homes, and autos. From its humble origins in 1922, the company has grown into one of the largest in the United States — number 94 on the Fortune 500 list, with more than 13 million members and US$207…

  • The stakeholder–shareholder debate is over

    The coronavirus pandemic has created significant distortions in our sense of time. But let’s rewind to August 2019, a safer, long-ago era, when arguments about masks were more focused on costume parties than scientific data. That is when the Business Roundtable published its opinion about the purpose of a corporation, proclaiming that companies should no longer act only in the interests of shareholders. Instead, the group of CEOs said, companies should also invest in their employees, protect the environment, and deal fairly with their suppliers. “While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” read the statement by…

  • The 10 most read s+b articles of 2020

    Articles published in strategy+business do not necessarily represent the views of the member firms of the PwC network. Reviews and mentions of publications, products, or services do not constitute endorsement or recommendation for purchase. strategy+business is published by certain member firms of the PwC network. © PwC. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details. Mentions of Strategy& refer to the global team of practical strategists that is integrated within the PwC network of firms. For more about Strategy&, see www.strategyand.pwc.com. No reproduction is permitted in whole…

  • Use social design to help your distributed team self-organize

    The corner office. The water cooler. The cubicle farm. So many of our place-based work clichés feel suddenly anachronistic in a world of remote work and Zoom fatigue. Many people will be happy never to return to the office, and some organizations will be OK with that. And as we navigate toward the new normal, it isn’t just where we work that will change — how people work together will evolve, too. We’ve also redefined what it means to be an essential worker. Clerks, technicians, health aides, and others once dismissed as a low-skill, high-turnover segment of the workforce have now been recognized as being just as worthy of esteem,…