By Tiffany Rowe
The evidence that becoming a purpose-driven company leads to greater success is hard to deny. Companies that are successful tend to share one common trait: They pursue a specific purpose, in addition to pursuing profits. A company that has a purpose is able to better engage and mobilize its people and resources to reach its goals, rather than simply managing them to accomplish tasks.
Much of the shift toward purpose-driven companies comes from the influx of millennials into the workforce, who want to find meaning and value in their work. These younger workers tend to be acutely aware of gaps between a company’s stated purpose and what it actually does, and what it’s perceived to do. The more those points align, the more engaged employees will be, and the more successful the company will be.
And it’s not just employees who are looking for a purpose-driven company. Customers also expect that companies are going to work on solving social problems through their work, and be more responsible corporate citizens. So while leaders remain under pressure to meet specific performance goals, they also need to articulate the company’s purpose and foster commitment to that purpose throughout the whole organization. In other words, they need to be purpose-driven leaders.
Becoming a purpose-driven leader is, for many leaders, a new approach to leadership. However, by making a few changes to your approach to team management, you can become a better purpose-driven leader and guide your company toward more success.
1. Clarify the connection between jobs and purpose
One common reason for disengagement in the workplace is that employees aren’t clear about how their jobs relate to the overall purpose of the company. Workers want to feel like their work matters and are important to the company, so when they don’t understand where they fit into the bigger picture, it can lead to frustration and have them simply going through the motions.
Every one of your team members should understand how his or her role fits in to the larger purpose of the company and why their work matters. This may require revising job descriptions, or even changing some roles, but the benefit is a stronger team in which every member knows why they are there and doing their jobs.
2. Build stronger relationships with employees
One of the biggest drivers of employee engagement is the relationship with the manager. When you are responsible for managing people, your relationships—or lack of relationships—can have a direct effect on their performance. Take the time to listen to your employees and be aware of what’s happening in your team. Trust your team to use their skills and be creative, and show them that you are trustworthy as well. The stronger your relationships with your team, the more likely that you will all be pulling the cart in the same direction and be able to achieve your purpose.
3. Identify and encourage employee strengths
Everyone has strengths, and as a leader, it’s your job to uncover your employees’ strengths and encourage their development. All too often, leaders focus on areas that need improvement—which is important—but identifying and encouraging what people are good at and allowing them to put those skills to work toward a purpose can boost engagement. You can encourage employee development as well. Some options include bringing in inspirational speakers, sending employees to classes or conferences, or even creating a clearinghouse to share resources. Be sure to tie all developmental activities to the company’s purpose.
4. Value all employees
While much of the talk about purpose-driven business focuses on millennials, an effective leader needs to focus on all employees, and not just millennials. Millennials aren’t the only employees who are purpose-oriented; in fact, one study found that employees over age 55 are more likely to be purpose-oriented than their younger colleagues. Develop your plans and initiatives with all age groups in mind to prevent alienating any one group.
5. Align goals with purpose
Finally, the last tip for becoming a better purpose-driven leader is perhaps the most obvious: When developing goals for your organization or department, align them with the overall purpose. Again, the idea behind this type of leadership is to work toward a specific purpose, so everything you do should be tied to that, including your short-term goals.
Because purpose-driven leadership is a relatively new concept, it will undoubtedly evolve in the coming years. By working on your skills now, though, you’ll be ahead of the curve and have a more successful company in the meantime.