The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win

by Wendy Ulrich

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Get the The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win book by Wendy Ulrich

About the book




"Principled, timely, and engaging, The Why of Work teaches that building a culture of abundance and common purpose is essential to organizational success."
--Stephen R. Covey, bestselling author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


"Will have a major impact on how individuals shape their attitude to work, how organizations create abundant cultures, and how leaders turn personal meaning into a public good."
--Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan


"The Why of Work shows a better, different way to build and lead organizations. It is an insightful guide to how leaders can infuse meaning into their organizations."
--Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of Power: Why Some People Have It―and Others Don't


"This book brings the question 'why' to the place in which we spend most of our adult lives, giving us insightful tools to help make a meaningful difference in people's lives."
--Don Hall, Jr., president and CEO, Hallmark Cards, Inc.


"This is a must-read for anyone who works, leads others at work, or works to build a supportive environment."
--Beverly Kaye, founder/CEO, Career Systems International, and coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay


"The Why of Work opens the door to significant employee engagement. The alignment between company values and those of customers and communities can indeed give employees a sense of purpose while delivering great results to customers!"
--Paula S. Larson, Chief HR Officer, Invesys


"Blackstone has proved that finding superior leaders produces superior results. Dave Ulrich has brought this thinking to a new level at Blackstone. Every private equity investor and senior manager must read this book."
--James Quella, Senior Operating Partner, The Blackstone Group


According to studies, we all work for the same thing--and it's not just money. It's meaning. Through our work, we seek a sense of purpose, contribution, connection, value, and hope. Digging down to the meaning of work taps our resilience in hard times and our passion in good times. That's the simple but profound premise behind this groundbreaking book by renowned management expert Dave Ulrich and psychologist Wendy Ulrich. They've talked to thousands of people--from rank-and-file workers to clients and customers to top-level executives--and synthesized major disciplines to identify the "why" behind our most successful experiences.


Using the model of the "abundant organization," they provide you with the "how" to create meaning and value in your own workplace. Learn how to:

  • Ask the seven questions that drive abundance
  • Understand the needs of your customers and staff
  • Personalize the work to motivate your employees
  • Build and grow your business in any economy


By following Ulrichs' step-by-step guidelines, you will set off a chain reaction of positive and enduring effects. Employees who find meaning in their work are more competent, committed, and eager to contribute―and their contribution will result in increased customer commitment, which delivers a winning performance on the bottom line.


The Why of Work includes targeted checklists, questionnaires, and other useful tools to help you turn aspirations into action. Using the proven principles of abundance, you can coordinate your needs with those of your employers, your employees, and your customers--and create a vision that resonates for years to come. When you understand why we work, you know how to succeed.

About the Author

I'm Wendy Ulrich, a psychologist and founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth, LLC, a group of mental health professionals committed to building the emotional and spiritual resilience of LDS women and their loved ones (see


I received my Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and an MBA from UCLA, then for many years I was part of private practice in Ann Arbor, where my husband Dave and I raised our three children. Because he is a professor at the University of Michigan, we had the flexibility to trade off school, work, and childcare when our children were young, giving me the rare privilege of giving birth to our third child in the middle of finals week at the end of my first year as a doctoral graduate student (not recommended).


My latest book, "Let God Love You: Why We Don't; How We Can," addresses the question many of us ask: why don't I seem to feel God's love as personally as I'd like? For many, the answer has less to do with our worthiness and more to do with our skill with closeness, our history with attachment, and even our experience with trauma. Self-assessment tools, stories, and opportunities for self-reflection will help you better understand where you are in your relationship with God, and how you can heal and grow toward deeper closeness.


The Temple Experience: Passage to Healing and Holiness," was in the works for over two decades. Seeing the LDS temple as a place of healing and self-discovery has been an important insight and an important personal process for me. It is less a book about understanding the temple and more a book about understanding ourselves, but I hope readers will also gain a deeper appreciation of the power and majesty of these sacred rites.


My first two books, "Forgiving Ourselves: Getting Back Up When We Let Ourselves Down," and "Weakness is Not Sin: The Liberating Distinction That Awakens our Strengths," come out of the long experience with the impact of self-blame in people's lives. While sometimes self-blame is definitely warranted, many of us tend to cling to it far beyond the point of being constructive or truthful. While there are a lot of books on forgiving others, when I started writing "Forgiving Ourselves" (Deseret Book, 2008) I could not find a single book on this important topic.


Later, Dave and I decided to collaborate on a book called "The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations that Win" (McGraw Hill, 2010). Mind you, the last time we collaborated on a major project I ended up sick to my stomach for several months, gained 40 pounds, endured demanding labor, and gave birth to a 13-pound child. Needless to say, I was a little leery about this new collaborative venture. Indeed, working with Dave on "The Why of Work" has yielded many of the same outcomes as our last collaboration, including nausea and weight gain! But our new brainchild has also been a very meaningful joint project.


The Why of Work pushed me to consider what gives meaning to my life and my work. At the top of that list are relationships with our children, grandchildren, and dear friends. A close second would be communicating ideas that have an impact on people's resilience and well-being through speaking, training, and writing.


On a more personal note, I love power tools and woodworking projects. I hope some of the things I write about can be powerful tools for others in finding meaning, self-acceptance, and a deeper sense of purpose in life.

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