Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

The Core Driver of BlackRock’s Success: Purpose

To most Main Street investors, BlackRock is basically invisible.  The New York-based financial giant is deeply woven into the fabric of global investing.  Surprisingly, it’s the world’s biggest asset manager, overseeing about $6 trillion in client money.    It’s also the biggest provider of passive exchange-traded funds, with $1.5 trillion invested in its iShares fund family.  All of this is super impressive when you realize the company is only 30 years old.

So what has been so unique about BlackRock that has led to such success? The leadership of BlackRock strongly believes that “sense of purpose” enables their company to attract top talent and achieve strong results.  In fact, many analysts observe that at BlackRock there is a palpable sense of pride in focusing on helping their customers, and it seems to drive them to continually excel.

The CEO, Chairman and Co-founder of BlackRock, Larry Fink, summarizes BlackRock’s success the following way: “what represents a game changer in my mind is that our mission is crystal clear; to create a better financial future for our clients.  It has never changed, and never will.  We are maniacal about driving high performance.”

Stepping back, one could easily say that all financial institutions probably believe that they are trying to create a better financial future for their clients.  What makes BlackRock different is they have configured the whole company to constantly address and achieve that purpose.  Here are the three things that BlackRock seems to do very well.

1.) A Simple and Aspirational Purpose Statement– The organization needs to understand it instantly and be able to play it back easily.  The BlackRock story reminds me of my days at Microsoft in the 1990’s, when the company had the powerful purpose statement “a personal computer on every desk and in every home.” It created a strong sense of being involved with something really significant.

2.) Organization-wide Constant Communications– It is imperative that everyone constantly be reminded of the purpose and that it be the core building block that drives all actions.

3.) Recruit Top Talent by Enrolling Them in the Cause- People have always sought meaning in their lives.  In recruiting talented people, don’t underestimate the power of making sure they understand the deep sense of purpose the organization represents.

As exhibited by BlackRock, “sense of purpose”can be a powerful driver of success and collective pride and unity.

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