The essence of any purpose-led organisation is to recognise why it exists. Irrespective of function, every business on the planet was established to fulfil a need in society—its higher order purpose. Spanning products, services, community and more, purpose incites action and ensures that the people an organisation serves are at the forefront of its focus.
When I interviewed Simon Sinek in March our conversation anchored around conscious leader burnout—people at the coalface of change in business and society doing extraordinary work, who become disillusioned and give up because they’re all ‘why’ and ‘what’ but lack an essential ‘how’. It highlights a significant and powerful insight—whether for-profit or not-for-profit the very best organisations function like social movements, interdependent and autonomous ‘ecosystems’ that create a deep sense of belonging and value for stakeholders.
From hierarchies to ecosystems
As organisations evolve from traditional command-and-control hierarchies and become more agile and decentralised, corporate culture is becoming increasingly ‘unscripted’. Thousands of HR and business leaders across every country agree. As highlighted by Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report, ‘Effective organisations today are built around highly empowered teams, driven by a new model of engagement, and led by a breed of globally diverse leaders. They are “different by design”.’
In this new world, the alignment of organisational strategy with a clearly articulated and co-created enduring purpose is vital. And yet, one of the most common barriers to engagement in the workplace is incongruence of purpose, or lack of clear purpose at all. At the root of this culture crisis conflicting values result in organisational apathy and despondency. Leaders need a new essential set of skills and new way to inspire and mobilise their people.
Neurologist and holocaust survivor Victor E Frankl once said,
A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how’.
A higher purpose strategy for engagement
That ‘why’ is higher purpose—an aspirational beacon that cultivates alliance and enduring value, bringing resolution to complex social and organisational challenges. And yet, in a world where purpose risks becoming catch-cry, the pressure is on for leaders to call BS on hollow corporate storytelling and identify what business are they really in—and authentically engage with their stakeholders to co-create its future.
Do you know what lights your people up?
By clearly defining and aligning your business with a higher purpose that serves the betterment of its community, a vibrant culture can be co-created. At the heart of this transformation is a manifesto.
To challenge an often confusing point of view, a manifesto is not a mission statement or a perfectly crafted vision and set of values displayed on an office wall. Wrought through compassion, outrage, hope, competition, and the desire to be more, instead, think of a manifesto as a public declaration of intent that sparks a fire in the belly of all who hear it—aligning stakeholders with a higher purpose that creates clarity and alliance as it is shared, providing vital context for engagement and a deep sense of belonging.
- How can you and your business affect more lives in more places, more completely?
- What technological and human skills are required to create a culture your customers love and employees feel proud of?
- How can you ensure connection with a clear and enduring higher purpose can be maintained?
A manifesto is the catalyst of all great movements
Emergent leaders are the custodians of manifesto—guided by a higher-order purpose that acts as a compass for transformation and growth. Do you know your higher purpose?
If you don’t have a manifesto, let’s create one together.