Episode 66: Middle Managers and Creating Value for Society

What does it take for a company to shift from a profit motive to a social contribution motive? Explore compelling evidence, key executive messages and the pivotal role middle managers play in making it happen.

This episode features John Davis, who has led businesses from start-up to $1 billion, served as a business school dean and taught top leaders in executive education programs at London Business School and Wharton, and is regularly interviewed by global media including the BBC, Bloomberg and the New York Times. His latest book, titled Radical Business, ranks as one of the top 10 must-have books by CEO Today Magazine.

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Episode Highlights


John's journey for helping companies contribute to society


The link between value creation and being a force for good


Differences between CSR and CSV


Sustainability threats to businesses


Why the profit motive is obsolete and the data behind it


CSV messages that resonate with C-suite leaders


CSV messages that don't resonate with C-suite leaders


The role of middle managers in making CSV a reality


Five types of roles middle managers can play


Putting the five roles into practice


How CEOs' career regrets relate to CSV


Case study: from fossil fuels to renewable energy


The power of curiosity in driving CSV initiatives forward

What John sees as the greatest unmet workplace wellbeing need

“[Recognizing] that people's outside lives actually do affect their work lives. We understand this intellectually, but the businesses everywhere have pushed this view that we need to keep professional, personal, separate. And that's an interesting concept in theory, but it's really hard to do in practice.

[Another] is cultivating a sense of self-awareness in the organization that allows people to the sort of the freedom to, to have that personal intrusion. It doesn't mean that we want to suddenly have ridiculous amounts of unfettered emotional outpourings all the time. That's not the point. But the point is that we often don't recognize the effects somebody's outside life has on their work life. And I think it's really important as humans, that we actually pay attention to that and actually place an important responsibility on leaders to be open minded, and to get to know other people better, because that will make a big difference.”

What “working with humans” means to John

“Working with humans means working with people. That's it. That's…the key success ingredient for top performers overall. And it's a critical element in becoming a force for good as a leader and influencing organizations to do better.”


Visit: John's website
Visit: Competent Boards, "the original and premier creator of online environment, social, governance (ESG) and Climate education programs for board directors and senior business professionals."
Read: Radical Business: How to Transform Your Organization in the Age of Global Crisis (John Davis)
Read: Give and Take (Adam Grant)

Michael Glazer is the creator and host of Humans At Work. His purpose in life is to make well-being at work a globally-accepted, basic human right. Learn more about Michael here.