Purposeful Leadership in a Time of Crisis

In conversation with Dean Costis Maglaras, Hubert Joly, the Executive Chairman of Best Buy, explains why in times of great uncertainty, business leaders should guide their workers not only with purpose, but with humanity.

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For Hubert Joly, the Executive Chairman of Best Buy, it’s vitally important that in times of great uncertainty, business leaders guide their workers not only with purpose, but with a full measure of humanity.

“You should see employees not as a commodity,” Joly said, “but as the source and engine of success.” 

In conversation with Dean Costis Maglaras, Joly discussed techniques leaders can use to avoid zero sum games when weighing responsibilities to both shareholders and to employees.

“The companies we admire the most tend to be great with their people, great with their customers, and achieve great financial results,” he said. “It’s very important to not focus on the financial outcome; it’s better to focus on doing your best to help both employees and business grow, then the outcome generally will follow.”

Joly explained how Best Buy reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in their corporate offices and stores, and offered advice to leaders making plans for when the crisis subsides.

“Going back to the way it was is a mistake,” he said. “It is going to be a reset.” 

About the researcher

Costis Maglaras

Costis Maglaras is dean and the David and Lyn Silfen Professor of Business at Columbia Business School. He received his BS in Electrical Engineering...

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