Meaning is the New Money

In her article for Diversity Executive, Tamara Erickson (2012) provides what could be a revolutionary process for capitalizing on diversity: embrace the differences of employees and bring individuals together as one working unit.

Erickson (2012) reminds us that the old method of monetary bonuses for extra work toward the company’s goals is dying out. She notes that business models are moving from individual task completion to group-based. However, individuals within that group still need incentive to do their best work within the group. Erickson notes that “money is not a motivator in this type of discretionary effort, nor does it bind a community into a collaborative whole”. She pushes for a new incentive, which is found in a “clear set of values that we share with colleagues.”

In his book on leadership, Craig Johnson (2012) notes that there are eight global values, including: love, truthfulness, fairness, freedom, unity, tolerance, responsibility, and respect for life.  Erickson (2012) knits this idea together, saying leaders need to move from “adopting and enforcing best practices to crafting unique experiences that reinforce the organization’s values.”

“Meaning is the new money,” says Erickson (2012), moving us away from observable and unobservable differences. Leaders should craft groups based on commitment to a unique company value set, so the power of the group’s individual members can be harnessed. Instead of seeing differences, the group will see what they can bring to the project at hand, based on the value set to which they’ve each committed themselves. This mindset could change the business world.

Erickson, T. J. (2012, January 30). Meaning is the new money. Retrieved from

Johnson, C. E. (2012). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.

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