Purpose-Driven Leadership - Finding a Business Purpose
Purpose-Driven Leadership

People enjoy being engaged in meaningful work. Humans, by nature, are a passionate species, and most of us seek out stimulating experiences. Companies that recognize this and actively cultivate and communicate a worthwhile corporate purpose become employers of choice.

A major Gallup Organization research study identified 12 critical elements for creating highly engaged employees. About half deal with employees’ sense of belonging. One of the key criteria is captured in the following statement: “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.”

After basic needs are fulfilled, an employee searches for meaning in a job. People seek a higher purpose, something in which to believe. If, in your role as a leader, you aren’t articulating what you care about and how you plan to make a difference, then you probably aren’t inspiring full engagement.

Finding a Business Purpose

As work evolves in the 21st century, separating our professional and personal lives proves to be an artificial divide
. Your personal purpose influences your work purpose, and vice versa.

A company’s purpose starts with its leaders and works its way through the organization. It shows up in products, services, and employee and customer experiences.

An inspirational purpose often lies hidden within an organization
. The following suggestions will help you identify and articulate key elements:

  • 1. Revisit your organization’s heritage (past history).

  • 2. Review successes. At what does the business excel?

  • 3. Start asking “why?”

  • 4. What won’t your organization do? Review false starts and failures.

  • 5. Talk to employees.

  • 6. Talk to top leaders.

  • 7. Talk to high performers.

  • 8. Talk to customers.

  • 9. Follow your heart.

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your calling. ~ Aristotle

A purpose is informed by the world’s needs. When you build an organization with a concrete purpose in mind — one that fills a real need in the marketplace — performance will follow.

Ask the following questions:

  • • Why does your organization do what it does?

  • • Why is this important to the people you serve?

  • • Why does your organization’s existence matter?

  • • What is its functional benefit to customers and constituents?

  • • What is the emotional benefit to them?

  • • What is the ultimate value to your customer?

  • • What are you deeply passionate about?

  • • At what can you excel?

  • • What drives your economic engine?

Mission statements used to have a purpose. The purpose was to force management to make hard decisions about what the company stood for. A hard decision means giving up one thing to get another. ~ Seth Godin, marketing expert

When a mission statement is well written, it serves as a declaration of purpose. But corporate mission statements are often little more than a descriptive sentence about products, aspirations or desired public perceptions. They’re more powerful when they clearly and specifically articulate the difference your business strives to make in the world.

Leaders who want to succeed should straightforwardly communicate what they believe in and why they’re so passionate about their cause, according to business consultant Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Portfolio, 2010).

Most people know what they do and how they do it, Sinek says, but few communicate why they’re doing it.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy into why you do it,” he emphasizes.
If you don’t know and cannot communicate why you take specific actions, how can you expect employees to become loyal followers who support your mission?

The world is before you, and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in. ~ James Baldwin, author