“Why are we here? I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists solely to make money. Money is an important part of a company's existence, if the company is any good. But a result is not a cause. We have to go deeper and find the real reason for our being.”
Over six decades later, the words of Dave Packard (founder of Hewlett Packard) still ring true amidst rapidly evolving sensibilities of what defines an organization’s existence. Today, there is a certain sense of ambiguity that plagues companies’ vision when addressing questions such as its unique goals, shared resolve and the organization’s overall purpose.
In my career spanning over 28 years, I have witnessed firsthand the discrepancies great leaders encounter when they set out to achieve a "common purpose" within their organizations. Even in an ecosystem where employees are fairly motivated, there are some who strive towards goals without any meaning or passion, and then there are those who have a short-term mission but lack vision in the long term. In order to accomplish its greatest potential a company has to bring its greatest asset – its people, together, so that it can depart from the paradox that considers it only as good as the product or service it offers to its immediate stakeholders.
How then does one translate the organization’s purpose for its people? Will what drives you as a leader, drive the people as well? What is the role of the team in the larger organizational purpose and how can one best align the two? While these are only some questions that organizations have to address when recalibrating the holistic dynamic, it is imperative to bring the organizational purpose to life in a practical way.
But what exactly is common purpose? While there could be several different definitions and even more intricate classifications of the ideology, what truly captures its essence is when an organization takes an attempt at internalizing its most compelling values, objectives and hopes in a manner that infuses within employees a renewed energy to work towards goals laid out, resulting in meaningful, inspiring outcomes. It is about the higher purpose and inspiration that enables better learning and fulfillment. While it is difficult to ever completely realize the true potential of common purpose in any organization, there are ways through which a true leader can unlock its team’s unique potential, fuel them with a sense of drive and reinforce value over time, to foster a purposeful work environment.
Inspire people to increase the value of life
Empower team members by urging them to participate in bringing the common purpose to life. Reiterate the idea that they are as crucial a part of the process as the leader which will inspire them to embrace the organization’s larger goals and drive home impactful change. The same can be steered by creating a platform for the employees to self-assess their performance, up-skill and enhance learning with each passing day, challenge the status quo and grooming themselves to be better leaders.
Nurture a culture of care
When defining the role of each individual in context to the organization’s larger common purpose, it is important for the leader to offer clarity and adequate perspective by advocating a narrative of care that echoes the belief that every employee is making considerable difference to the firm’s overall efforts.
Bring collaboration to the fore
So that the team is able to associate with the shared purpose more intimately than what they would otherwise, it is crucial to establish an environment of collaboration. Collective achievement is more than the sum of individual contribution. An ecosystem that bets big on this power of collaboration is one that can shed new light on the meaning of leadership, dynamism, innovation and creativity, making the organization a force to reckon with.
Anchor a growth mindset at the heart of all operations
Growth mindset is a value that must inspire the foundation of any organization’s common purpose framework. It is only a growth-led mindset that will give employees the courage to do the right thing and do them well, advance their learning process and spark curiosity and a thirst for action. It is with this passion for winning, that incremental growth will manifest across organization’s key operations over the course of time.
As the organization moves into a new orbit, there comes about a need to relook and reflect to adapt to the new world without compromising on what a brand stands for. While values can be refreshed and evolved in line with any organization’s most identifiable business goals, a common purpose is what truly reflects the maturing of an organization and its intent to continuously raise the bar.