Most people expect a business to have a mission statement, but few people talk about a company having a purpose. Is it possible that meaning has gotten lost in the shadow of the mission?
Let’s break down purpose in business and get to the marrow of what moves a company, what drives the vision, and why having a spirit of purpose is critical.
A mission statement can serve as an essential foundation for leadership both paid and volunteer to have a shared vision for the organization. It explains what the business does and can provide decision-making guideposts.
Elements of the statement can represent morale, approach, and promise. The trick is keeping it active and relevant—enter purpose.
Purpose in business: The fuel for integrity and focus
Imagine purpose in business like an unspoken company tagline. It’s the setup and the punctuation of every action. Employees know it’s why they’re serving their function, and employers know it’s the ultimate gut check.
Employee: Is what I am doing in support of our purpose? Let’s take a closer look.
Employer: Will making this decision move us closer to fulfilling our purpose?
Let’s use an example of a service-based company that’s looking to even out cash flow and streamline its offerings. They move to a model of offering annual service plans.
Is the rationale: We’re selling this way because not doing so would lead to our peril? Probably not the most effective way to get a team charged up or a client signed on. What if instead their purpose was to be a seamless extension of people’s lives, proactively solving problems?
Ok, but does that mean businesses should retrofit a purpose to satisfy their financial needs? No, we’re not talking about disguising sales goals. What we’re doing is revealing the reason the product or service is worth selling – or buying.
The truth is that companies and people need to make money; it’s essential, like breathing. Purpose in business is the idea of adding meaning to the pursuit of viability and growth; this adds focus, rather than causes a distraction.
We can and should focus on tools that build unity and drive revenue.
What is the benefit of motivation?
The workplace and consumer space are comprised of people of all backgrounds. They share values about time control (“Don’t waste my time”), and are receptive to embracing a shared pursuit of better. In this case, “better” means an increased sense of personal value and a heightened connection to the journey.
Viktor Frankl, a neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor coined the phrase “will to meaning,” referring to the instinct of human beings to find meaning in life.
He said that “The human brain cannot sustain purposeless living,” which is why motivating employees and companies with a compass that points to the why of their activities is such an essential element of success.
Many of us grew up believing that we’d become adults and have a profession that, “Got us out of bed in the morning.” The reality being that it’s not a single thing that gets anyone out of bed; it’s the distinct combination of passion, drive, and perspective – all of which come to life through purpose.
When you and your employees believe in what you’re doing, that confidence is apparent to the client. Meaningful direction breeds enthusiasm in your team. It also differentiates your business from the competition. It’s never too late to reassert your value by understanding why what you’re doing is necessary.
Give your team a reason to be proud.
Provide your company an opportunity to stand out.
Most of all, boldly claim your unique approach to doing what you do.