Does Purpose Really Inspire Your Work Culture for Strategic Results?
Updated: Sep 8
Work cultures and strategic results
Do you know your purpose? Sometimes I feel like that question is a bit scary. This fear was especially the case when I was younger; the interplay between purpose and failure was regularly on my mind—I've been an old soul for a long time. Ultimately, lacking a sense of purpose wasn't the source of my fears. Failure was. Now, in times of failure, I've recognized that purpose is often the only thing that stays with me. It steadies the ship, grounds my actions, and allows me to see that there is a pathway out of the pit. A vital piece of the fear comes from, I believe, our longing to be authentically integrated people who live true to ourselves and one another.
As a part of the Leadership Transformation Process, leaders develop a two-word purpose statement. Mine is to Clarify Meaning. It's amazing how two words can become a powerful tool for personal transformation. Throughout the intense nine-week discovery, I answered many questions and talked to many people to get to that point. Once I constructed the statement, it was amazing to see how in a lot of ways, it already intersected with large parts of my life. In other ways, it opened the door to reevaluate goals I'd set and better understand if they were worth pursuing. The more you lean on your purpose, the more you return to it in decision-making; it will start to feel less like putting on a new pair of glasses and slowly become your primary source of vision.
INFUSING STRATEGY WITH PURPOSE
Do you know the purpose of your organization? Maybe it's in your mission or vision or reaching a particular goal? Or is it something unwritten, not even talked about, but daily acted on that's secretly guiding your team from below the surface? If your purpose isn't actionable daily, it's not your purpose. It's simply an idea you'll never reach, a standard only met in dreams. When corporate purpose becomes a living piece of the organization, it infuses strategy with a level of buy-in that goes beyond a mandate. It allows team members to see that their work is impacting production beyond the balance sheet or P&L. Shared purpose combines the clarity of identity, the motivation of meaning, and an actionable mission to create heightened commitment, unity, and performance.
Reactionary leaders lose sight of the steps necessary to bring a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) to life. Strategic thinking requires leaders to cast a vision and see beyond the horizon; that makes BHAGs appealing and worthy of our time and attention. Intermingling personal purpose to fuel corporate purpose creates a more significant opportunity for innovation and traction in reaching goals. Liz Fosslien illustrates a similar thinking style regarding what it takes to create habits that lead to changing behaviors below.
We all make consistent daily choices that significantly contribute to the destinations we long to reach, whether or not we are aware of those choices. In the same way, leaders who lead on purpose are making decisions that support that desire. Similarly, leveraging that drive and watering those tendencies creates meaningful work within workplace cultures. Perhaps, this is where the synergy of purpose is most profound. When leaders understand the "daily habits" that lead to "big accomplishment," personally, it becomes easier to recognize the flow of actionable steps to execute an effective strategy. Empowering the people within your company to lead with clarity and meaning fosters a passion for shared work and collaboration. These characteristics are imperative for world-class leadership.
Your purpose should be accurate enough to touch daily life in your decision-making and far-reaching enough to carry you throughout your life. At the end of each day, can you say that you lived according to your purpose? It should be a source of comfort and affirmation to your authentic self. It's a practical pathway for living a life of integrity.