THE BLOG
11/12/2014 05:38 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2015

The Real Reason Monster's CEO Lost His Job

When was the last time you looked for a job or an employee on Monster.com? If you're like most people, you've heard of Monster, but haven't used it lately.

Monster Worldwide has announced that CEO Sal Iannuzzi is leaving. His departure comes after several years of declining marketing share, poor earnings and a plummeting stock price. Industry analysts have suggested that Monster's decline is because they were out innovated by newer more social technology like LinkedIn.

They're wrong.

It wasn't a technology failure; it was a leadership failure.

Monster was founded on the belief that helping people find jobs was a noble endeavor. Founder Jeff Taylor's mantra was, "It's half about a better job, and half about a better life." Yet if you look at Monster today, you don't see any semblance of the noble purpose that used to drive their business.

During a Monster town hall earlier this year, when CEO Iannuzzi had his entire organization gathered together, he didn't mention job seekers once. Instead, he told his team that the sole goal of their new strategy was to increase the stock price. Not help customers, not improve the industry, just increase the earnings. Their business was no longer about making people's lives better; it was about making money, end of story.

Iannuzzi made a classic and very common leadership mistake; he focused on profits instead of purpose. For the last seven years, Ianuzzi's public and private narrative has been a non-stop focus on earnings. But his focus on earnings didn't drive profits; it eroded profits. And now, a billion dollar organization once heralded as the industry innovator is on the verge of becoming irrelevant.

Iannuzzi fell victim to the same quagmire that many leaders do. He got so caught up in chasing the numbers, he tried to short-circuit three fundamental truths about human motivation:

  1. People want purpose and meaning in their work.
  2. Emotion drives behavior.
  3. The words of the leader matter.

Iannuzzi once said in a Wall Street Journal interview, "I owe it as part of my fiduciary responsibility to increase shareholder value any way that I can."

He's wrong.

Greed has been cloaked under the guise of fiduciary responsibility, and it has been aided and abetted by boards and shareholders. But the job of the leader is about more than just making money. It's about creating a sustainable organization that adds value to customers and employees.

Peter Drucker once said, "Profit is not the purpose of a business, it's the test of its validity."

Monster and Iannuzzi are not unique. The same thing happens in conference and boardrooms every single day. The narrative of profit, earnings and bonuses that was supposed to improve employee performance has had the opposite effect. It stripped the joy and meaning from work in ways that have a chilling effect on company performance, customer service, and employee morale.

Money matters; lack of money will drive people to do all kinds of crazy things. But stock price, earnings, and even bonuses will not create organizational greatness. People want more than just money from their work. They want their work, where they spend the better part of their lives, to count for something bigger than just a balance sheet. They want, they need, and they deserve a noble purpose.

Monster and Iannuzzi should serve as a cautionary tale. When a leader overemphasizes money, you eventually wind up making less of it.

Lisa McLeod is the creator of the popular business concept Noble Purpose and author of the bestseller, Selling with Noble Purpose. She is a sales leadership consultant and keynote speaker. Organizations like Genentech, Google, and Kaiser hire her to help them grow revenue.

www.McLeodandMore.com
Lisa@McLeodandMore.com