The Power Behind Purpose

Herding Cats

“Go to the people: live with them, learn from them love them start with what they know build with what they have. But of the best leaders, when the job is done, the task accomplished, the people will say: “We have done it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

Purpose connects “positive” to “business.” When we work together for a common goal, time flies and reaching the objective becomes joyful. This effect can be achieved by working alone, but it is magnified when we work in teams, attaining the synchrony of accomplishment.

There are two ways to put these concepts to work in your organization. The first is to lay out concrete objectives that employees can hit, but with a significant effort—an approach I’ve discussed before. After the goal is reached, team members need to celebrate their achievement and take a short break to recharge their effort stores before they work on the next challenge.

This may be the time to lead your work and life more authentically from the inside out. See the clients we’ve helped. Read more. 

The second way to use purpose as a motivator is to identify and broadcast your organization’s “higher purpose.” Specifically, how does your organization improve customers’ lives? If you don’t know this, then you don’t know why you’re in business.

Doug Rauch, the now-retired president who turned Trader Joe’s into a national chain, told me that he realized during the company’s expansion that Trader Joe’s higher purpose was to give customers a delightful experience. It does this by selling customers healthy and unique foods, but Rauch realized that it was delight that makes the real difference. And all Trader Joe’s employees know this.

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When I visit companies, I find that employees at very few of them actually know their organization’s higher purpose. That is most unfortunate, as Peter Drucker reminded us. “The number of people who are really motivated by money is very small,” Drucker once remarked. “Most people need to feel that they are here for a purpose, and unless an organization can connect to this need to leave something behind that makes this a better world, or at least a different one, it won’t be successful over time.”

Follow Drucker’s lead and change work from being transactional to transformative. Productivity will go up, and so will joy at work. I’d call that positive business.

Adapted from  The Drucker Institute.

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About

Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work www.jimwoodsgroup.com. He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website www.jimwoodsgroup.com.

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