Being the boss takes work. We’ve heard that people don’t leave their jobs; they leave their bosses. Harvard Business Review reported that 82% of people don’t trust their managers. When things go afoul within organisations, we often hear the fish rots from the head. However, we don’t hear enough that a rising tide lifts all boats. The trifecta of purpose – business, personal, and leadership team purpose is an underutilised tool to build momentum to raise the wave.
EY’s ‘Business Case for Purpose’ has shown that “companies able to harness the power of purpose to drive performance and profitability enjoy a distinct competitive advantage.” Executives also suggested that “a strong sense of collective purpose drives employee satisfaction, can help increase customer loyalty and can affect an organisation’s ability to transform”.
Leaders must find new ways to unify their senior leader’s hearts and minds in a society that is shifting to more me over we. Here are three ways for CEOs to leverage the power of purpose to create momentum and build greater power amongst their leadership teams.
Connect your leaders to the company’s purpose.
IKEA wants “to create a better everyday life for the many people”.* Lego exists to “inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow”. These are about more than just making money, and in a competitive talent market, they can help attract senior leaders to the organisation who are passionate about those areas.
To leverage the purpose of your organisation, articulate it. Look at what impact the company can make beyond profit. If senior executives can contribute to making an impact beyond the bottom line, it helps them realise one of their self-actualisation needs, which sits atop Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Once it’s clear why your organisation exists, connect your senior people to the purpose. Ask them what part of the purpose excites them the most and why that purpose is personally important to them. Connecting them emotionally gives them a meaningful reason to care and think more we over me.
Prosper with personal purpose.
Martin Luther King fought for justice through peaceful protest. Mother Teresa lived her life to bring happiness to the destitute. Australian Libby Fisher has spent countless hours caring for injured and orphaned wildlife as an adolescent and young adult. These three individuals’ personal purpose inspired their lives – and many more.
Dolf van den Brink, CEO and Chairman of the HEINEKEN Company, leveraged his purpose of “being the wuxia master who saves the kingdom” to inspire him to take action when the going got tough. A fan of Chinese kung fu movies, Dolf’s purpose was motivated by the wise, skilful warriors who revelled in high-risk situations.
To inspire and motivate your leadership team, encourage them to articulate their purpose. Once they know it – they can draw upon it. When they share it, they can bring people along…to save the kingdoms that matter most to them.
Lean into your leadership team’s purpose.
Members of leadership teams are part of two teams. The one they lead, and the one they are part of – your leadership team. Their energy and efforts often go towards the groups they lead, leaving many CEOs working harder than they should to unify their team. A lack of alignment is poisonous in leadership teams, and aligning on the leadership team’s purpose can help guide how the team works together. Senior leadership teams are far more effective when they are aligned and take responsibility for the organisation’s results, not just their own.
At your next leadership team meeting, ask, “What is the purpose of our leadership team?”. The best leadership teams take time to talk this through, align and ensure their precious time together serves their team’s purpose. What unifies and excites everyone? What are the benefits if the team achieves its purpose? Once established, leadership teams should use that purpose as a filter to guide their discussions, meeting agendas, what to talk about and not talk about, and what decisions they need to make as a group. Create clarity on your leadership team’s purpose, evaluate how well you are living that purpose regularly and your team will take things to the next level.
Purpose is deep-rooted. It excites us, it energises us. A sense of purpose gives your management team a sense of belonging. When execs feel like they belong, your senior leaders can do more of what they love doing, deliver brilliant work and push the tide to new heights.
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