Clear Purpose Leads to Meaningful Action

CEO, Purposeful Culture Group

If I were to ask your front line staff, “What is your organization’s reason for being?” what would they tell me?

There’s one way to find out. Ask them.

Many frontline staff I have asked at a variety of organizations are surprised by the question. Their answers are telling:

“Our company exists to make money.”

“We make compressors (or cars or sandwiches or refridgerators or whatever your team’s core product is).”

It is not wrong to make money. It is not wrong to make a product. Making money means you can do more good things. More products mean you can make more money. However, employees who see these as the exclusive purpose of your organization are not going to be personally inspired.

The purposeful, positive, productive businesses that I study having something in common. Their leaders are focused and intentional on helping all team members understand that their company exists to serve others. Those leaders educate team members how the customers and community benefit from their existence. They communicate this through stories and other meaningful efforts.

“How well does your company or department’s statement inspire employees?”


For example, one culture client was a catalog printing plant. When first asked what the plant’s purpose was, nearly every employee said, “To make money” or “To print catalogs.”  The leadership team realized they had not crafted or communicated how well-printed, cost-effective catalogs helped their customers succeed with their businesses.  They had not shared compelling success stories.

Over the next few months, the team wrote a servant purpose statement – a purpose that described who they served, how they served, and to what end (besides making money), then tested it with employees. It rang true quickly and inspired the staff. The revised statement became,

“The purpose of our catalog plant is to provide marketing tools that drive our customers’ business success.”

Having a clearly stated servant purpose allowed the leadership team to establish clear objectives regarding activities and behavior. The intent was to ensure that their servant purpose was acted upon every day, to ensure that every plan, decision, and action contributed to that servant purpose being demonstrated daily.

It compelled employees to participate in the vision.

Employees jumped into the opportunity to engage in their work in a more meaningful way. They refined processes. Cut waste in half. They stopped the press if they noticed a color shift even though it would cost money to correct.  They started to own the servant purpose.

How well does your company or department’s purpose statement inspire employees? How do your services positively impact customers and your community?

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