“Purpose isn’t everything, but it trumps everything else.” – Roy Spence, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For
In 2015, a business coaching client asked me to design and facilitate a session with their entire company during their annual retreat in Kauai to help them solve what was a very good (or a potentially really bad) problem.
This successful technology company needed to be prepared for responding to a great problem most companies only wish they had:
That was the good problem.
The bad problem? They lacked one very important building block in their company in order to achieve sustainable success, clear direction and growth: A clear, shared and inspiring Purpose Statement.
The owners of the company were in tune with their individual core values, knew their team and their market enough to know they could achieve lofty goals and make a huge impact on the industry for their partners and customers. For a consultant, this was a PLUS because they were already ahead of the game.
This wasn’t their first rodeo, and the co-founders know that in order to move forward everyone on the team needed to be aligned and ready for the ride. Because if they weren’t, and it got rough, they could lose their best talent and ruin the trust of their partners, and excellent reputation they worked so hard to create.
Individually and collectively, the team first needed to identify, verbalize, connect with their core values. Then some serious brainstorming needed to happen, which was framed by answering four key questions (more on that later).
Finally, to begin to craft the Purpose Statement, they needed to get BIG and answers needed to come from everyone in the room: “What difference do we make and for whom?”
Many of you may say, “Yes, but isn’t that the same as a Vision or a Mission Statement?” No, it’s different.
A Purpose is our strong WHY we get up in the morning. A purpose is inspiring. A Purpose includes everyone who works at the company. A Purpose connects individuals and core values of people and the culture of the organization. EVERYONE knows the purpose and knows how their role and unique talent they bring to their work everyday is a necessary for the company’s achievement of the Purpose.
A Purpose is never achieved, is not measurable and NOT attached to the bottom line. A Purpose is not “how we do things” or our strategy. WARNING: A Purpose is not for the faint of heart because you WILL be called to act on your Purpose (and everyone is watching).
Ultimately, everyone in the company is accountable for making decisions that are aligned with the Purpose, including which work we do, how we hire and fire people, and how we allocate our resources.
A company’s sustainable success today goes beyond the bottom line and a by having a clear, inspirational purpose you attract and keep great talent, and repel and easily de-select people who aren’t in alignment with your company’s Purpose. Because if your people aren’t on board, you may not survive your own success.
Purpose-driven companies thrive through challenges, good and bad. And, by the way, the most financially successful and thriving companies are driven first by a strong, clear Purpose. Bottom line is important or they wouldn’t survive, but it’s not at the top of the list.
Some examples of excellent, clear Purpose Statements:
Merck: To gain victory against disease and help mankind
Disney: To use our imaginations to bring happiness to millions
Johnson & Johnson: To alleviate pain and suffering
Merck, Disney and Johnson & Johnson, as well as my client, realized the process of identifying and crafting a compelling, inspiring, clear and meaningful Purpose Statement isn’t for the faint of heart and doesn’t happen in a half-day leadership workshop. It is a process, and not an event. It starts from the bottom up, the top down and is inspired by the strong WHY?’s of the founders, the team members who make it happen, core values and most of all the BIG DIFFERENCE they make and for whom.
Not only did this company successfully develop their clear Purpose Statement, they used it to guide their business decisions which, according to one of the partners, ultimately positioned the company to be acquired by Google.
Most importantly, the process of discovering their Purpose was inspiring, fun, engaging and they found that doing so connected people at a whole new level, one they need to be at in order to thrive through their next growth opportunity.
Is your company ready for your next “good problem?”
Share your favorite (or your own company’s) Purpose Statement below. How does it speak to you and align with your Purpose?
Sustainable Leaders create keystone habits that leverage small wins to achieve BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)
While “SMART goals” have their purpose and place, creating and maintaining new habits is a more effective strategy.
There are many reasons people are reluctant to set goals, and even more reasons why they fail to achieve goals. If this is you, consider these key ingredients:
1. Public accountability – Tell someone, better yet put it in writing AND share it with others!
2. A shorter feedback loop or time-frame (30 days is perfect) with which to adjust course as necessary.
3. 1 Action Step you can take in the next 48 hours is essential to motivate you to continue with the next Action Step (and public accountability for that action is essential, too).
4. Clear Impact: Can you answer the question, “What difference will it make for me, my family, community, organization, customers, etc.) when I achieve the goal?”
5. You have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious) goal, that involves your team and their public buy in, too!
Start now: Post your BHAG for 2013? If you have one for yourself and one for your organization, post it too!
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When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit
Thank you to Michael Hyatt, who published this inspirational poem, Author Anonymous on his blog over at Intentional Leadership.
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Because you can’t play enough golf, or tennis to stave off the feelings of “dis-satisfaction” and “dis-appointment” of your unmet expectations of what life will be like when you retire, unless you ask yourself these 3 critical questions …
Here’s the radio interview on Boomerbeat: “3 Questions Retiring Executives Must Ask Themselves Now to Be Satisfied in Retirement”
Click here to listen now: http://bit.ly/MRBopD
I look forward to your comments below!
My executive coaching clients get homework (yes, really!) and Gary Hamel’s book “What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation” just rose to the top of the reading list.
If you are a newly hired or recently promoted leader or manager (or you are experienced leader working on your succession plan for retirement), this is a MUST READ NOW book.
If you wait too long … you will be left in the dust and stomped on by your competition who is taking action on Gary Hamel’s (a bit irreverent) ideas on how to become a resilient, innovative and built to last organization.
Christina Haxton, MA LMFT
Sustainable Leadership, Inc.
Leadership Speaker, Author & Consultant
Powerful Connections… Sustainable Leadership … Extraordinary Peace of Mind.
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Scott Mabry posted this article from McKinsey Quarterly on his blog and all I can say is it’s about time the cat’s out of the bag …
Leading through times of exponential change is not for the faint of heart … and requires more character, stamina … and hugs than we ever imagined (or even Donald Trump would admit).
Sustainable leaders will be able to lead through the 21st century … and beyond. Because these leaders will come back to center and know what REALLY matters. And lead from who they are. But first, a reality check …
Read what Josef Ackermann, formerly of Deutsche Bank; Carlos Ghosn of Nissan and Renault; Moya Greene of Royal Mail Group; Ellen Kullman of DuPont; President Shimon Peres of Israel; and Daniel Vasella of Novartis have to say about what it’ll take to be a highly successful CEO who won’t burn up or burn out: Click here to read more in the McKinsey Quarterly journal …
To Your Sustainable Leadership,
Leadership Speaker, Author & Executive Consultant
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Congratulations on your promotion (or maybe you are in line for one) … but don’t celebrate too soon. Did you know almost 50% of newly promoted or newly hired executives get fired or quit before within the first 18 months on the job?
The expectations are high (yours and theirs) and yet there’s so much you don’t know about the people, the culture and the “unspoken rules.”
On top of that, you must get up to speed quickly so you can hit the ground running and feel satisfied at the end of the day.
You’re invited to see the webinar replay now available through June 17th:
Discover the pitfalls you need to avoid and understand the critical strategies new leaders must practice to eliminate “leadership stress” and earn the trust of your new team … so you don’t end up a statistic.
Here are just two of the biggest mistakes new leaders make:
Pitfall #1: Failure to understand why change (even “good” change) is hard and most change initiatives fall flat (and this includes your presence, even if your predecessor was a miserable manager). Hint: Small change over a period of time leads to lasting, long term change. Scale down a change initiative into an “experiment” in one department or with one small group first, instead of rolling it out company wide and crossing your fingers it takes hold.
Pitfall #2: Believing that understanding the problem alone is enough to make change happen. Don’t fall into the trap of “over-analysis” or worse, who’s to blame for the problem. Ask better questions to find solutions and take action as soon as possible. “What is good about this problem?” and “What is not perfect yet?” are just two of the five questions teams need to feel creative and take decisive steps to action.
(The bottom line is you’ll want to have these tools to accelerate your leadership effectiveness for the long haul, too.)
Questions? Comments? Advice for new leaders? Post your thoughts below!