In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, there’s a well-worn idea gaining traction: the true purpose of a business isn’t solely about profits. Often when considering purpose, businesses can intend a contributory ethos, but in reality, profit is often the bottom line.  However, while financial success is essential, it’s not the only driving force that motivates employees and shapes organisational culture.

The Heartbeat of Business

What truly ignites passion within an organisation? It’s the deeper understanding of its purpose. When employees feel a connection to the company’s mission, they’re more likely to bring their full selves to work, rather than leaving a part of themselves behind.

Consider this: Are you eagerly waiting for the day to end, or are you genuinely invested in your work? The difference lies in understanding and resonating with the ‘why’ of your organisation.

The Ripple Effect of a Congruent Purpose

When an organisation’s purpose is congruent, it resonates deeply, creating a harmonious alignment across all its operations and touchpoints. For employees, this alignment fosters a sense of belonging and motivation. They’re not just working for a paycheck; they’re contributing to a cause they genuinely believe in. This emotional connection often leads to increased job satisfaction, higher levels of engagement, and a willingness to go the extra mile. On the other hand, customers can sense this congruence too. They’re more likely to trust and remain loyal to brands that stand authentically behind their stated purpose.

This trust isn’t just about the quality of products or services; it’s about believing in what the company stands for. In an age where consumers are becoming increasingly discerning about where they spend their money, aligning with companies that share their values becomes a powerful decision-making factor. Thus, a congruent purpose doesn’t just benefit the organisation internally; it creates a positive ripple effect externally, building stronger relationships with both employees and customers. In the long run, this alignment is not just a ‘nice-to-have’ but a crucial pillar for sustainable growth and brand loyalty.

Digging Deeper: The “Why” Factor

  • Why was your organisation founded?
  • What values does it uphold?
  • How does it impact the world?
  • What void would it leave if it ceased to exist?

These introspective questions can unveil the core purpose of an organisation. When employees feel that their contributions align with the company’s mission, they experience a sense of belonging and purpose.

Take Patagonia, for instance. More than just an outdoor clothing brand, Patagonia’s ethos revolves around environmental responsibility. Their mission isn’t just about selling products but also about inspiring and implementing environmental solutions. This shared purpose drives their employees, leading to increased engagement and passion.

In a world where a mere 13% of employees feel engaged at work, tapping into the potential of the remaining 87% can be a game-changer. Patagonia’s commitment to its purpose is evident in its talent acquisition: it receives approximately 10,000 applications for just 100 positions!

Profits and Purpose: A Harmonious Relationship

Emphasising purpose doesn’t mean sidelining profits. Purpose-driven companies often outperform their counterparts. Research indicates that organisations rooted in a strong purpose are 10-18 times more profitable than those solely focused on financial gains. The reason? Engaged employees lead to better outcomes.

Moreover, aligning with suppliers who share your purpose, and ensuring your brand’s public image mirrors your core values, creates a ripple effect. This self-sustaining momentum is far more impactful than any top-down directive.

Congruent Purpose: A Catalyst for Profitability

A congruent purpose refers to an organisation’s core mission that is consistently reflected in every facet of its operations, from its internal culture to its external communications. It’s not just a statement on a wall; it’s a lived experience that permeates every decision and action. Such alignment offers a myriad of financial benefits. Firstly, it attracts and retains top talent, reducing recruitment and training costs. Employees aligned with the company’s purpose are often more productive and require less oversight, leading to operational efficiencies.

Furthermore, a congruent purpose can lead to enhanced brand reputation, driving customer loyalty and attracting new clientele who resonate with the company’s values. This loyalty often translates to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals, reducing marketing and customer acquisition costs. Moreover, suppliers and investors are more likely to collaborate with businesses that have a clear and consistent purpose, potentially leading to better terms and increased funding opportunities. In essence, a congruent purpose acts as a magnetic force, drawing in resources, talent, and customers, all of which culminate in increased profitability.

Crafting Your Organisation’s Purpose

For startups, embedding purpose from inception is relatively straightforward. However, for established entities, especially large ones, realigning with a core purpose can be challenging.

Here’s a simple framework to help:

Vision: Your desired future.
Mission: Your roadmap to that future.
Values: The principles guiding your journey.
Purpose: The reason for the journey.

This simple formula is demonstrated by some iconic companies and their purposes:

Disney: “Using our imagination to bring happiness to millions.”
Merck: “To alleviate pain and suffering.”
Walmart: “Save money, live better.”
McLaren: “To win.”

So, what’s your organisation’s purpose? Does it resonate with your values? Engaging in this dialogue can be the first step towards aligning your company’s energies towards a more fulfilling and impactful future.

Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels: A Framework for Purpose

One insightful tool to explore and determine organisational purpose is Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels. This model breaks down the elements of change into six distinct levels:

Environment: Where and when does the organisation operate? This pertains to the external conditions, locations, and times that influence the organisation.
Behaviours: What actions and processes are being carried out? This level focuses on the specific actions taken by members of the organisation.
Skills and Capabilities: How does the organisation achieve its goals? This dives into the competencies, strategies, and capabilities that enable the behaviours.
Beliefs and Values: Why are certain actions deemed important? This level delves into the beliefs about what’s possible and the values that drive the organisation’s decisions.
Identity: Who is the organisation? This core level defines the organisation’s sense of self, its mission, and its role in the larger context.
Purpose: For whom and for what larger outcome does the organisation exist? This transcendent level focuses on the bigger picture, the organisation’s reason for being, and its contribution to the world. By examining each of these levels, organisations can gain a holistic understanding of their current state and identify areas that need alignment to truly resonate with their core purpose. This alignment ensures that every aspect, from the environment in which they operate to the broader purpose they serve, is in harmony, driving the organisation towards its true north.

Have you crafted your organisation’s purpose?

What would you put, personally? Does this align with your values? What would everybody else put down? How does this align with your organisation’s current vision and values? And how do you begin to have the conversation to align and harness the energies of your organisation towards an inspiring and fulfilling purpose?

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Gina Hayden is a Director of Sphere Consulting Services, The Global Centre for Conscious Leadership, the Conscious Capitalism UK Chapter and The Conscious Leadership Consultancy  She is the author of ‘Becoming a Conscious Leader: How to Lead Successfully in a World that’s Waking Up.