Leaders Drive Purpose
In every organisation, it usually falls to the leader to ensure that employees know what makes the organisation run. Only a leader who knows him or herself can do this effectively.
As a leader, it is important to consider what your own purpose is. One question you can ask yourself is – what gets you up in the morning? What is driving you and your purpose? Is it your family? Is it your career? Is it your brand? This gives you the opportunity to reflect and properly understand what your purpose is in order to be effective at work.
For many, it is the opportunity to do what they have always wanted to do. Be it help the elderly in the community, help patients in the emergency department, or even help people find their own purpose.
How do I determine purpose?
The two questions you can ask is:
- Why does my team need to know about purpose?
You need to answer it for yourself first and then explain it to your team. For example, if you are in finance, what makes your work purposeful? This becomes an opportunity to link your team’s functional expertise. You are responsible for maintaining cash flow as well as providing guidance for planning decisions. How you explain that to your team will go a long way toward their understanding the implications of their work. more information about leadership and management is available via this website
- How can I make purpose more relevant to my team?
Your team is looking to you for answers, so you need to make purpose explicit. The easy way to do this is to explain how the work your team does contributes to the smooth running of the organization. A better way is to tell stories about the work. Consider how your customers judge your work. You likely have examples of success that are worth sharing. Returning to our finance example, talk about how one of your colleagues complimented your team on making the budgeting process easier to understand, allowing him to complete the planning process in a more timely fashion. These two questions quantify the role a leader plays in determining the purpose and meaning of work for the team. Many people, however, are searching for deeper meaning, satisfaction, enrichment, and happiness. While these may be existential issues, answers can be found in purposeful work. Let’s take them one at a time. (Baldoni 2011)
How to instill purpose at work
Mission is essential to accountability. It helps to be working for a mission-driven organization where people can really embrace and take great pride and satisfaction in the mission and what they are doing to advance it. “Trust is something that doesn’t happen overnight,” says Roger Webb, President of the University of Central Oklahoma. “You can’t make a good speech and greet your employees and all of a sudden [have them] trust you.” Webb likens trust to building a bank account that you accumulate over time. It is important for a leader to show vulnerability at the same time: “You have to fight for them and appreciate their support in return.”
- Let people know they matter
“Demonstrate through your actions that people come first,” says Nancy Schlichting, CEO of the Henry Ford Health System. Given the economic hardship the region has endured in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the Henry Ford Health System has cut costs severely. One thing it did not cut was training and development -
. “It sent a message to our people that we were serious about our commitment to people,” reports Schlichting. For Schlichting, investment in people is only part of the equation. She makes herself available to anyone in the health system, saying, “People in our organization have complete access to me.” Sometimes that involves helping an employee’s child find a job in the health system, or even airing an issue with a supervisor. As Spiegelman of Beryl Companies says, “There is a link between building a people-focused organization and driving better outcomes and results for your customers.”
- Reach out to employees as individuals
When Jim Guest arrived at Consumers Union as its CEO, he made a habit of introducing himself to employees. “I would just drop into people’s offices, total strangers, and say ‘Hey, what are you up to? What are you working on? What’s your job?’” Word soon got around that Guest was truly curious as well as genuinely interested in what employees did and how they did it. Guest continues the practice today by eating in the cafeteria with employees. “I’ll make it a point to sit down at different tables. I often sit with people I don’t even know … and just talk to them.” For Guest, such exchanges yield insights into what is really going on in his organization. “I often learn more from [conversations with employees] than I do from reports I get.” Guest also makes certain that new employees know that his door is open to them. He tells them “feel free to stop me in the hall or to make an appointment and come to my office.” True enough, not many do make those appointments, but Guest says, “I do get stopped in the hall.” Sometimes Guest will turn those impromptu chats into immediate invitations to his office. This is important to employees. As Guest says, “It’s easy to forget how much a small interaction with a chief executive can be so meaningful to people.” Communication is important to Guest’s leadership style. Prior to making decisions, he says, “I’m not looking for a consensus, but I am looking to consult or to gather information from people.” Communicating as he does with people at all levels in the company gives Guest a good sense of what’s going on in the organisation. (Baldoni 2011)