I have been teaching Organizational Behaviour, OB, for years, but this is the first time I will be addressing an audience at the Goodman Institute of Investment Management, at the John Molson School of Business. These students are working towards the designation of Charted Financial Analyst, while also obtaining an MBA.

Both credentials are challenging feats, but the Chartered Financial Analyst carries the added weight of having to write 3 levels of the CFA exam. To give you an idea of how challenging this task is consider the following:

In June of this year (2016), 43% of all students (Global) passed level I, 46% level II and 54% level III.

OB is essential to a commerce education but it’s a social science. And that means that few, if any, of our theoretical models, can be reduced to neat and exact equations.

OB is the study of human behaviour in organizational settings. And human behaviour is not black or white my friends. In fact, there are many shades of grey. Even more than 50!

That can be a tough sell to this crowd.

While the course content appears to be based on common sense, it is anything but. Moreover, common sense is not so common, and common sense is not the same as good sense. But I will save that for another blog.

In brief, the course teaches students how to manage others and create effective organizational cultures. And to ensure that we are indeed creating productive and efficient firms, we like to measure stuff.

Actually, we in management love to measure things!

We have measurement tools for individual and team performance, organizational effectiveness, organizational culture, engagement, satisfaction and well, you get the point.

We believe, and of course, we have evidence, that what gets measured gets managed.

While I believe this to be true, as evidenced by the many thousands of dollars I have spent on managerial certifications, and the great number of years I spent in grad school studying Organizational Behaviour, I can’t help but wonder if we have failed to teach our students about the most important assessment tool of all.

How to measure our lives

What metric will you use to measure the impact of your life?

From an organizational perspective, dollars and cents are easy barometers that assess revenue and profit. They are indeed the standard metrics of organizational success (but this too is changing).

From an individual perspective, many of us similarly measure the meaning of our lives by our bank balances.

Yet, as a researcher studying work and retirement, I have come to discover that money is rarely a satisfying metric of success, regardless of one’s net-worth. As people take stock of their lives and near the age of retirement, many are left wondering how they will be remembered, and what, if any, is the legacy that they are leaving behind?

Despite the accolades, titles, and the accumulation of material wealth- many people start asking themselves:

·     Do my accomplishments really matter?

·     What have I really contributed to the world?

·     What influence has my life had on others?

These are hard questions – but good questions nonetheless.

Dr. Clayton M. Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor of Management, suggests that the measure of a person’s life should be calculated by the positive impact we have on others. You should really read his best selling article.

And in Management, the insightful professor asserts, we have the privilege and the responsibility of helping others grow and develop. Christensen explains:

“Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement and contribute to the success of a team. More and more MBA students come to school thinking that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people. I want my students to leave the classroom knowing that”.

I share the same sentiment.

I too want my students to leave the classroom knowing that they have tremendous power to affect positive change in their own lives and in their organizations.

While much of my time encompasses consulting and coaching employees about life after work, I think our students would benefit from thinking about their life’s purpose at the beginning of their careers.

As Clayton so eloquently states: g-d doesn’t employ accountants.

Your life will not be measured by how much money you make, or by how rich you make your clients or your organizations.

But, if you start from the premise that your life’s purpose is to have a positive impact on as many people as possible, I suspect that you will reap positive results in all domains of your world- including financial (And of course – the research supports that).

To your success!

Dr. Gill