Top business leaders may not be social scientists and sociologists but their long journey to success and experience in building their empires have given them some sociological wisdom and theories in their minds on what works or fails in the field of business. They may not have articulated exactly the type of theories and insights they use in the quotes, but they are nevertheless very sociological and empirical from a sociologist’s point of view. Let us examine and analyze sociologically the following quotes from well-known global business leaders:
This quote emphasizes that media business needs visionary leaders. In sociology, the type of leader with vision is usually the charismatic leader. The German sociologist Max Weber basically classifies leaders into 3 types: Charismatic, Traditional, and Rational-Legal. The charismatic leader is one with extraordinary talents and personal traits. His talent includes a vision of the future.
It is proven that today’s great business leaders are people who think and see ahead of their times. They have the talent to spot opportunities which ordinary entrepreneurs cannot see. Charismatic leaders are creative and innovative people who are willing to break traditions just to actualize their visions. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma, to name a few, are examples of charismatic business leaders. In contrast, the traditional leader is usually a conservative person who only follows the tradition and culture of what is handed down from the past to the firm, while the rational-legal leader is one leads only to the laws and policies of the company.
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This quote emphasizes that the customer is the ultimate boss in business. Without customers, the business cannot survive and grow. The resources and capital of the business firm must be used wisely to serve the customers. Managers have no business in the company if they cannot provide the best products and services to the customers.
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This quote stresses that one must take risks in business but only if it is a good cause, if it can lead to a good life, presumably for the customers and the public. A business firm and its leaders cannot takes risks if what they do are contrary to law, custom, and needs of the public. It cannot engage in shady deals and corruption just to increase its profit. Some companies, for instance, pollute rivers by dumping their wastes at the expense of the inhabitants and environment.
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Bill Gates may not be a sociologist, but he knows that life is not equal. It is part of urban society’s social stratification where people are classified according to wealth or social class and according to their skills and level of education or social status. In a capitalist society, the social structure always favors and rich and entrepreneurs, while the poor and workers are oftentimes exploited and forgotten.
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This is a very good observation by Jack Ma. Not many people can see that complaints are actually gaps in the system and opportunities for the business firm to grow and even create new products and services to address them.
Jack Ma, because of his vision and long experience in business, is correct. The right people for the job or task in the company are not necessarily the best ones. The best people are actually difficult to train in the company. They usually have a strong sense of entitlement. They tend to be good at commanding rather than obeying people who know the needs and problems of the company. That is why, aside from the necessary qualification, the employees must possess the right attitudes, values, and personalities which are consonant with the company’s mission-vision. A business firm is a system with interdependent parts and functions. It requires a teamwork. If the firm hires the best people rather than the right employees, it can result in disharmony and systemic dyfunction which are not good for business.