I'm a firm believer in the power of knowing ones 'purpose' - as an individual and as an organisation. From experience I know that purpose can serve as a powerful motivator and a yardstick for making the hard choices necessary to be successful, but only if it is accompanied by a clear understanding of how you're going to fulfil it and most importantly it is put to practical use in everyday decisions and actions i.e. it is authentic and credible.
Take some time to reflect upon the following questions:
As a business owner or leader are you clear about your purpose?
Can you articulate in one sentence why your company or organisation exists above and beyond making a profit?
What needs does it meet? Why you make the products you make or deliver the services you deliver? What value do you create for your customers or your community?
Great companies have a purpose that extends beyond simply making as much money as possible. Their purpose appeals to the moral convictions of its key stakeholders.
What are the moral convictions that drive you and your business? Is it discovery - searching for the new? Excellence - providing the best product or service? Altruism - caring for others? Heroism - leading the field?
There is, of course, nothing wrong with companies making profits but this is the paradox of purpose. By aiming for something more important than money, by being driven by compelling values and beliefs, companies actually make more money, especially in the medium to long-term.
A clear purpose provides the navigational compass that determines the company’s direction of travel and a solid foundation from which to make decisions, it creates the conditions to motivate and unify management and staff, to drive innovation and facilitate the building of relationships, it encourages a strong culture and ethos within a business and by having more to buy into and engage with it encourages loyalty of both customers and staff. Examples of highly successful, purpose-driven companies include Virgin, Volvo, Microsoft, Google, Wikipedia and The John Lewis partnership, I am sure you can think of many others.
Whether individual, team, or organisation, a sense of purpose and direction is essential to commitment. A shared sense of purpose is the glue that binds people together in common cause, often linking each individual's goals with the organisation's goals. When such a purpose exists, it provides employees with a clear sense of direction, helps them prioritise and inspires them to go the extra mile. Properly formulated, a shared sense of purpose provides understanding of the need for coordinated collective effort, for subordinating individual interest to the larger objective that can be achieved only by the collective effort.
It is also what makes the difference between a confident and resilient leader and one who is easily distracted and blown off course with a shift in wind. A sense of purpose provides feelings of personal power, confidence and meaning, Purposeful leaders don’t see themselves as victims of circumstance and are resilient during times of transition. This confidence and clarity provides an anchored, rooted value and belief system that sustains and guides the leader and those they are leading.
Articulated well and executed with authenticity and integrity, purpose can become the wind in your company’s sails.
Anita Cacchioli is a Corporate and Executive Coach with a broad and successful career as a senior executive, chair and non-executive director in the public, private and trust sectors.
Connect with Anita on twitter @ANCAManagement
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Tags:coaching purpose altruism goals integrity authenticity
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