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3. In a bubble. Purpose initiatives cannot be one-off workshops or optional learning sessions on the corporate learning platform. Leaders and people managers have to be supported to develop their own purpose and a language to speak about it, so that they can support their teams to do the same, on a daily basis in the heart of the work. It’s in team meetings, customer interactions, and other routine tasks where feeling purposeful drives these benefits.
Three Dimensions Of Cultivating Purposeful Leadership
To realize its full potential of win-win-wins, purpose must be conceived in three dimensions, using the Me-We-World framework.
Exploring, refining, and sharing our own individual sense of purpose is often overlooked as a powerful element of leadership. We engage consultants in six-figure contracts to build our organizational purpose and a communication strategy to go along. But don’t take the time or energy to revisit why we do the work we do on a regular basis, much less share that purpose with our teams.
It’s important to remember that our individual purpose does not have to overlap 100% with our companies’, even as CEO or Founder. Organizations are bigger than just one person. It’s normal – even important – that a leader’s purpose connects most strongly to some part of their role in the organization, and shows up in other ways beyond their formal role.
Collective purpose, of a given team or the organization overall, is important too, and must be tied to the work each member is being asked to do. It’s important to be explicit that each of our individual purposes can ladder up to that of the team, but that we are not expected to subsume our own to the collective. Or that we must leave behind any element of our individual purpose that doesn’t fully align or overlap with the collective.
A sense of purpose, whether of an individual or a team, must aspire to have positive impact on the people and planet. It cannot be narrowly linked to sales or profitability or fame, as ends in themselves. Recall the research we introduced in the opening that “overemphasizing financial targets erodes morale and undermines long-term strategy.” These impacts on the people and planet need not be massive or aimed at fixing problems unrelated to one’s core activity. But they must be concrete, measurable, and integrated in the work being done.
Move From Purpose to Purposeful In the Me, We, And World Dimensions
To keep the people you need to grow a sustainable and profitable business in the 2020s, you must invest in helping them connect their work to why it matters: a larger sense of purpose, for them as individuals and the organization. This connection to purpose must then be activated: linked to the work they’re doing on a Tuesday afternoon. It is in those granular, mundane activities that we shift from purpose as a concept to purposeful: a motivating way of doing and being. And therein lies the benefits to engagement, retention, and ultimately your business’s bottom and top line growth.
Email us for a free worksheet to start growing purposefully, as a habit, to multiply your investments and follow the Future of Work GPS.
In the Future of Work, helping employees grow is critical, but not sufficient to success. Purpose is … [+] the multiplier.