I dropped a client a note today as a follow-up to a conversation about purpose. He asked a good question, “Do we need to work on developing a purpose statement for the company?” He is my note to him:
I love that you keep thinking about culture – you have a blank canvas with your company and what you do with that challenge has the ability to drive change and aliveness in you.
I think a lot about things like “purpose” – however it’s defined, purpose is something that is always there, we just get more and more clear about what our purpose is. I think the purpose of humans and the entire universe is to evolve, to get more complex, better and more conscious. This is why we feel an impulse to improve – our purpose is in our DNA. Part of becoming more conscious humans is to serve (to move from a egocentric to ethnocentric to world centric perspective). Our purpose is to be aligned with our core or intrinsic values of connection, service, compassion – these values are intrinsic, ends unto themselves whereas increasing investor returns and buying and selling properties are means to an end.
The guys in your shop who reflect about purpose are not alone, see this article on the topic https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leadership-deadpurpose-new-christos-tsolkas?trk=hp-feed-article-title-share – it is the buzz right now and are responding to an internal urge to align their lives and work with their purpose, I think this is a natural urge and will not be going away anytime soon – it’s also what will make vocational lives more sustainable and fulfilling.
Your challenge and role as a leader is to determine what the collective values are of the group you are leading and align your group’s (broadly defined as all stakeholders) activities with those values. This is your purpose, aligning you and others with their purpose, their values. Corporate purpose statements miss the point, the purpose of all organisms is to evolve, what’s important are the choices, norms, rituals and processes that align us with what is true, good and beautiful – the stuff that’s most important to us. As the millennials evolve they reflect a need for a new and deeper “why”. Leaders who help answer the why question will attract and retain evolved and capable people and access their greatest gifts.
All the best,
I’d love to hear your thoughts on company purpose or the whole concept of purpose.