Embracing Your Team’s Servant Purpose Personally

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S Chris Edmonds
S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He shares insights on organizational culture, servant leadership, employee engagement, and workplace inspiration. He writes books and articles and records podcasts. In his free time, he's a working musician with the Brian Raine band in Denver, CO.
S Chris Edmonds

@scedmonds

I help leaders craft purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. Speaker, author, & executive consultant. Blogger & video-caster. @BrianRaineBand mate.
Delighted that my latest post for @Richtopia is live: "3 Reasons Why Great Leaders are So Important in Business Tod… https://t.co/L16UsM2XNU - 3 hours ago
S Chris Edmonds

One thing that makes great bosses effective is the fact that they are constantly engaging in dialog with team members. They reinforce their team’s “reason for being” – how they make customers’ lives better – daily. More importantly, they help each individual team member understand how their unique skills, passions, and contributions align with the purpose statement, supporting the team’s products, services, and customers. The team’s identity is formed daily by employees embracing the team’s servant purpose as their own.

What is your team’s identity? It has one – it just may not be the one you want it to have.

I define identity as a combination of your team’s servant purpose and how team members see themselves as contributing to that purpose.

Does your team have a formal servant purpose statement? Most teams and companies do not have a formal purpose statement beyond “making widgets” (widgets being whatever your team’s products or services are) and “making money.”

Delivering quality products and services is a very good thing, as is making a profit. The only way your team or company can sustain itself is to bring in more revenues than it spends.

Now, some of my non-profit and government clients push back on the “making money” requirement. I worked in non-profits for 15 years and in government for three years. If we didn’t generate revenues above expenses in those industries, we faced difficult decisions – laying people off, merging or closing business units, etc.

However, “making widgets” and “making money” doesn’t address your team’s meaningful contributions very effectively.  On the other hand, a purpose statement is a description of your team’s present-day “reason for being” – what it does, for whom, and “to what end” – how a customer benefits from your product or service.

Here’s the purpose statement from WD-40, a terrific company that I’ve studied for years: “Our brands create positive lasting memories by solving problems in homes and factories around the world.” Their servant purpose statement describes what they do (solve problems) for whom (people in homes and factories around the world) and to what end (create positive lasting memories).

Before you craft your team or company’s purpose statement, seek out purpose statements from companies you admire. Even your local independent coffee house or bookstore might have a terrific “reason for being” you can learn from.

Once your purpose statement is formalized and communicated, the hard part begins – aligning team members’ heads, hearts, and hands to that purpose. A perfect purpose statement alone will not inspire every team member. To create passionate players who are thrilled at their opportunities every day it takes:

  • Intentional dialogue
  • Communication
  • Understanding between bosses and team members

What is your team’s identity? What outcomes are measured, monitored, and rewarded daily?