Selected by Zeeshan Ahmed Khan

Aug 08 - 14, 2005





"Good intentions are not always socially responsible."

A business that does not show a profit at least equal to its cost of capital is irresponsible; it wastes society's resources. Economic profit performance is the base without which business cannot discharge any other responsibilities, cannot be a good employer, a good citizen, a good neighbor. But an economic performance is not the only responsibility of a business any more than educational performance is the only responsibility of a school or health care the only responsibility of a hospital.

Every organization must assume responsibility for its impact on employees, the environment, customers, and whomever and whatever it touches. That is social responsibility. But we also know that society will increasingly look to major organizations, for-profit and nonprofit alike, to tackle major social ills. And there we had better be watchful, because good intentions are not always socially responsible. It is irresponsible for an organization to accept - let alone to pursue - responsibilities that would impede its capacity to perform its main task and mission or to act where it has no competence.

ACTION POINT: When it comes to corporate philanthropy, make sure your company doesn't take its eye off the ball.



"Authority without responsibility is illegitimate; but so is responsibility without authority."

'Public responsibility was to Alfred Sloan worse than unprofessional; it was irresponsible, a usurpation of power. "We have a responsibility toward higher education," a chief executive of a major American corporation once said at a meeting both Sloan and I attended. "Do we in business have any authority over higher education?" Sloan asked. "Should we have any?" "Of course not," was the answer. "Then let's not talk about responsibility," said Sloan with asperity. "You are a senior executive in a big company and you know the first rule: authority and responsibility must be congruent and commensurate to each other. If you don't want authority and shouldn't have it, don't talk about responsibility. And if you don't want responsibility and shouldn't have it, don't talk about authority."



Sloan based this on management principles. But of course it is the first lesson of political theory and political history. Authority without responsibility is illegitimate; but so is responsibility without authority. Both lead to tyranny. Sloan wanted a great deal of authority for his professional manager, and was ready to take high responsibility. But for that reason he insisted on limiting authority to the areas of professional competence, and refused to assert or admit responsibility in areas outside them.

ACTION POINT: Do your areas of responsibility match your authority? Make recommendations for achieving a closer match.


"Hire the person who can do the job- and accept that the person who can do the job isn't necessarily the person you want to be best friend with."

MARK H. McCORMACK, American sports marketing consultant, founder and CEO of International Management Group, and author.

"Of course, competent people are paid well for their contributions, but receiving well-defined responsibility and the trust and active interest of others is a much more personally satisfying reward."

JAN CARLZON, Swedish business leader, former CEO of Scandinavian Airline system, speaker and author.

"Behind every problem there lies an opportunity. All you have to do is identify it."


"Power can enable people to achieve, for themselves and for others, success, fortune, victory, the good life. But if power is the stuff of fantasies, it is also the stuff of nightmares."

THOMAS L. QUICK, American consultant and author.

"Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity."

JEAN DE LA BRUYERE (1645-96), French writer

"Companies can't promise lifetime employment, but by constant training and education we may be able to guarantee lifetime employability."

JACK WELCH, American Industrialist, CEO of General electric company.

"When absolute superiority is not attainable, you must produce a relative one at the decisive point by making use of what you have."

CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ(1780-1831), Prussian general and Strategist.

"The biggest wasters of their own resources are the people who don't know who they want to be or where they want to go."

TOM HOPKINS, American sales trainer, motivator and author.

"There can be no progress if people have no faith on in tomorrow."

JOHN F. KENNEDY(1917-63), American statesman and 35th President of USA(1961-63)

"If you would be powerful, pretend to be powerful."

HORNE TOOKE, British politician and writer.

"We credit scarcely any persons with good sense except those who are of our opinion."

LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, French aristocrat and writer.

"You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate."


"Technology made large populations possible; large populations now make technology indispensable."

JOSEPH WOOD KRUTCH (1893-1970), American essayist, teacher and critic.