We’ve all heard of clean slate brands and the consumer trend away from heritage brands (if you haven’t, check out the infographic here). We’ve all heard of corporate social responsibility. And what we’re hearing more of is PURPOSE. It’s the thread that weaves your organisation’s or your business’s mission, values, corporate social responsibility agenda, brand DNA and people – together.
Cultivating a culture of purpose in your organisation or business is not a nice-to-have. It’s not something you do on the side as CSR activity once was. It’s something you live and breathe by, in every facet of your business, and it seeps into the DNA of your brand, it tells people what you are really all about, it builds trust, inspiration and hence community. And after all, it’s community that we all thirst for, a tribe to whom we belong.
Building an inspiring business or inspiring work begins with inspiring leadership. Typically, identifying your purpose and articulating your mission is no easy feat. It requires a level of deep introspection that is often both personal and organisational. Questions like ‘what are our values?’, ‘what do we love?’, ‘how do we want to leave the world?’ are some of the starting places for articulating purpose. To engage people in revealing purpose, a conversational leadership process is very useful and will be effective throughout the creating of a culture of purpose journey.
Conversational leadership encourages keen attention, self-discipline, and a certain kind of artistry in engaging and communicating with others. It doesn’t mean indulging in endless spiels and presentations where people are spoken ‘at’ but rather identifying and engaging with the crucial and often courageous exchanges that facilitate meaningful change.
If a leader can understand that they can shape and evolve an organisation by mindfully and consciously noticing, listening to and addressing the conversations which form how people think and act about and towards the organisation, there is great scope for an inspiring purpose to emerge. It takes courage for a leader to step into this territory, as it asks them to let go of control and open up to the input and differences of others. These ‘others’ include the people within an organisation, its customers and stakeholders.
Bringing others with you along the journey of purpose is critical to it truly coming alive in your work and organisation.
Your purpose, when it’s embedded in the DNA of your work or organisation, will shine through everything you do:
Product and service supply chain and delivery
Your people will naturally be purpose bearers
Corporate social responsibility
Watch this TED talk by Jacqueline Novogratz for some more inspiration on finding and living your purpose!