purpose

In the next series of articles, we explore the subject of purpose.

It’s one of those areas that most leaders recognise as important, yet they struggle to give the issue enough attention due to operational challenges. According to research, neglecting purpose can have a hugely detrimental effect, and yet, there are major benefits to experience if you can implement purpose at the front and centre of your business.

Purpose gives meaning and direction – it develops commitment and fuels productivity. It connects people, allowing them to feel good about the work they are doing, thus motivating them to give their all, especially if the organisation’s purpose resonates with their own values.

As we explore the idea of purpose, we discover that this is perhaps the most important subject, not just for your organisation, but your workforce too.

Think about the one question that children love to ask. I’m sure you’ve guessed it… ‘Why?’

Within every person is the need to answer ‘why?’. Why does this matter? Why should I do this? Why me? Why now? I’m sure most of you can relate to the following scenario.

“Kids, get your shoes on. We’re going to Grandad’s house.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so – just do it will you.”

Little response, perhaps passive resistance. Eventually they get out the door, after some managed conflict.

If the ‘why?’ question is answered as followed, it’s a completely different scenario.

“Because I’ve just spoken to Grandad and he tells me he’s been to the shop and bought LOADS of sweets and says you can have as many as you like when we get there.”

Shoes on, coats on. Sixty seconds later; “Come on, come on, let’s go!”

The outing now has purpose, everything we do needs purpose, from small and routine activities to large and scheduled jobs. We need to be able to complete the sentence, ‘This is important because…’ if we want to be able to give our best efforts to any challenge or responsibility.

If you were to renovate a large, derelict property, before you begin, you must define the purpose of the project. A spacious family home or a block of multiple small apartments? A quiet retreat from city life or a party venue for family and friends? Everything begins with purpose.

Every organisation should seek to clearly define why it exists and then communicate this to its key stakeholders, staff, customers, suppliers, shareholders and the communities in which it operates. This purpose should be something that excites and inspires those different groups of people.

The attitude, ‘we exist to operate at a profit and maximise shareholder value’ is not going to get many hearts racing. On the other hand, if an organisation’s purpose states how it will improve the lives of its customers, serve its employees and contribute to the community, the impact of this will be profound and will be explored in future articles.

Of course, coming up with a ‘nice purpose’ without belief in it will severely undermine trust. True purpose must be discovered – it exists in the DNA of the company and explains why people tryst them.

Equally, every individual in the organisation should be encouraged to identify their own purpose. When individual purpose aligns with organisational purpose, great things can be achieved.

Next article: How to discover your purpose