How To Create and Cascade The Purpose Of Your Organization
As the leader of a large company, a small business, an entrepreneurial start-up or a division within a company, you can find your purpose by reflecting on why the company was founded or on a moment when the company did something good or touched a customer in a profound way.
Was it something a customer said? Are you remembering a time you swooped in and made a bad situation better? Was it an accomplishment the cynics said was impossible? The leader holds the establishment and protection of purpose in his hand, though the team has to support and execute.
Keep It Brief: You must be able to state your purpose clearly to another person and evoke a strong emotional reaction in only a few words.
Make It Memorable: Way back in 1930, Mike Cullen, an employee of Kroger Foods, wrote a letter to the company’s president, Bernard Kroger, proposing a new type of store called a supermarket that would offer low prices on consumables but wouldn’t offer delivery or allow customers to charge their groceries to store accounts. He never received an acknowledgment or answer from Kroger, so he took his life savings and moved his family to Long Island, where he opened America’s first supermarket. What gave Cullen, his family and his employees the grit they needed to revolutionize the grocery industry? A clear purpose: “to become the world’s greatest price wrecker.”
It’s Great to Be Foolish: What’s big enough and important enough to you that you’re willing to look (or feel) foolish for persisting and persevering?
Get Your Senior Team on Board: Unless all the senior leaders believe and are seen as believing in the same thing, the company will eventually become filled with discord and subversion and eventually go off the rails or implode.
Hire Only Those Who Believe in the Good You’re Trying to Do: James Archer, founder of Multi-Chem, says, “Hire hard and manage easy. When you hire people of integrity who are capable of doing the job, want to be part of what you’re trying to do and share your purpose, you don’t need a lot of rules. Rules are for the 2 percent of people who need them. We’d just rather weed those people out before hiring them.”
Give the People the Why and They’ll Give You the How: If you want to build and lead an enterprise with a culture of urgency and growth, the only proper and logical starting point is to begin by making certain that everyone knows and believes the company’s purpose, the why. It
will change your destiny. Bob Engel, CoBank’s CEO, said it best in sharing his insightful observations on purpose: “When people know and buy into the why, they’ll figure out the how.”