A recent article in Fast Company identified “purpose” as a superpower, indicating  “companies that have purpose built into their bottom line are the most likely to remain standing.” It will be easier for businesses who are purpose-driven than those who are not to survive this unprecedented economic downturn associated with the pandemic and add the compounding social issues surrounding racial equality.

A purpose-driven organization is one that is dedicated to making a difference.

The main question that I am frequently asked is, How do you create a purpose-driven organization? The answer is that you must begin by creating purpose-driven people.

Having a purpose beyond profit may seem irrelevant, but a recent study by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) discovered that 79% of business leaders surveyed by PwC believe “an organization’s purpose is central to business success, yet 68% shared that purpose is not used as a guidepost in leadership decision making processes within their organization.” The majority are not walking their talk.

The same study also identified that millennials are 5.3 times more likely to stay when they have a strong connection to the purpose of their organization. However, the vast majority of employees remain disengaged from work, with only 33% drawing real meaning from their employer’s purpose. There is an abundance of evidence showing that brand loyalty is tied to the mission of a company.

inspired teams within an organization possess a sense of meaning and enthusiastically work towards the organization’s goals. Facilitating purpose-driven team members may be guided by the following questions:

Who are you? This is a big question, as it addresses self-awareness. If an individual understands how and why they behave the way they do, then their foundational self-awareness level is high. An individual with self confidence is quite capable because they are comfortable in their own skin.

When do you say no? We are defined by our engagements and I strongly recommend filling your life with commitments, not obligations. This is where values and culture is displayed, especially when it comes to engaging with an organization. For me personally, my best success stories start when I say “no” to something.

How do you work with others?  This addresses inclusivity and acceptance of self and of others. If someone is really comfortable in their own skin and share and encourage a sense of confidence in others, engagements between team members is smoother. A confident manager who deals with incident management is able to get ahead of the causes of incidents when they work well with others.

What do you do? What is it that the individual brings to the role? Do he/she/they understand their unique ability to the organization? What is their unique skill set that brings value to the organization? Have you told your team members how much you appreciate them? Engaging in a practice of gratitude will enhance their sense of pride in their work.

And lastly, Why do you do it? Having clarity of vision and clear values is critical for an organization. Being clear on your values is clearly important. On an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon discovers Penny’s Chinese tattoo of soup. She thought it meant courage. If individuals within an organization can answer this question of Why do you do it?, which builds upon the preceding four questions, then you have closed the purpose gap. If the messages are murky and unclear, answering this question of Why may not be possible.

Your organization is purpose-driven when everyone knows who they are, knows when they say no, knows how to work with others, knows what their talent is, and knows why they do what they do. Having a foundation of purpose makes it easy to stand firm in your values. For instance, Uber’s head of diversity and inclusion tweeted their new billboard campaign, “If you tolerate racism, delete Uber.” This is more than a line in the sand, it’s a strong statement of Uber’s values.

Additional existential questions for your business to explore include: Does your organization offer a culture to foster purpose-driven teams? Is your company one that accurately represents the true nature of your culture? In short, do you walk your talk? Established values may not always permeate throughout an organization, so it is important to find those gaps and fix them. Retaining employees is easier when your organization knows who you are. After all, would you like to work at a place where leadership doesn’t know who you — or they — are nor what their values are?

Building purpose into the gaps of your business may seem daunting, but it does not have to be. The effort will exceed the reward in the long run. One of my favorite Ernest Hemingway quotes, “Everyone should believe in something. I believe I will go fishing.”, is a humorous way to spin purpose, and that man sure did love to fish.

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