FM Global’s 175-Year Legacy of Common Purpose Highlighted in New Leadership Book

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Commercial Property Insurer FM Global's Unique Business Model, Unconventional Approach and Shared Vision Described as Hallmarks of Success

Commercial property insurer FM Global profiled in newly released leadership book

My point in focusing on FM Global is to describe how common purpose leadership works in a real setting and how the vision, mission, values, and practices of common purpose leaders can be highly profitable without eroding over time.

A just-released book, Common Purpose: How Great Leaders Get Organizations to Achieve the Extraordinary, written by noted leadership expert and author Joel Kurtzman sheds new light on the meaning of leadership and the qualities of leaders. Among the real-world examples of effective common-purpose organizations, the book takes an in-depth look at business property insurer FM Global, one of the longest-established companies among Fortune 1000 organizations, and examines how the company has remained innovative, relevant and successful by focusing on a singular vision: helping the world’s largest companies prevent loss.

FM Global, which commemorates its 175th anniversary in 2010, is one of the best examples of a company whose employees have internalized the organization’s values, objectives and aspirations enabling them to work toward one goal, writes Kurtzman, a senior fellow and publisher of The Milken Institute Review and the former editor of the Harvard Business Review. The company is among a select number of other well-respected corporations—such as Microsoft, Wynn Resorts, Colgate Palmolive and Ritz-Carlton—profiled in the book for what Kurtzman says is their exemplary approach to leadership and organizational vision.

“My point in focusing on FM Global is to describe how common purpose leadership works in a real setting and how the vision, mission, values, and practices of common purpose leaders can be highly profitable without eroding over time,” says Kurtzman. “In fact, FM Global has been a common purpose company since its inception, an attribute that imbued it with enormous staying power and resiliency.”

“FM Global’s founding leadership principles were not fluff,” writes Kurtzman. “They were honest and true and they saved lives and property. All of these elements were solid building blocks for a common purpose organization.” This kind of leadership at FM Global, explains Kurtzman, translated into an unconventional insurance company, the first – and still the only – major insurance company in the world to take an engineering-based approach to helping clients protect property and insure against loss.

Showcasing how FM Global has remained at the top of its field for 175 years, Kurtzman writes, “FM Global was started by Zachariah Allen, a Rhode Island textile mill operator who believed most losses were preventable. This phrase, “preventable losses,” uttered by Allen so many years ago, continues to be repeated by people working in the firm—from its chairman and CEO throughout the organization and around the world. In fact, it is one of the most important organizing principles at FM Global and is fundamental to the way it conducts its business.”

The book, Common Purpose: How Great Leaders Get Organizations to Achieve the Extraordinary, by Joel Kurtzman, can be previewed at Google Books and is now available in hardcover and audio from major booksellers, including Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0470490098
ISBN-13: 978-0470490099

More than one of every three FORTUNE 1000 companies, and similar size organizations around the world, turn to FM Global to develop cost-effective property insurance and engineering solutions to protect their business operations from fire, natural disasters and other types of property risk. FM Global ranks #766 among FORTUNE magazine’s largest companies in America and is rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best and AA (Very Strong) by Fitch Ratings. The company has been named “Best Property Insurer in the World” by Euromoney magazine and “Best Global Property Insurer” by Global Finance magazine.

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Steven Zenofsky
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