Building a purpose-driven culture

Peter Drucker was wrong when he said the only goal of a business is profit. Profit is absolutely essential to success, but it’s only an outcome driven by a broader vision. Communicating a clear mission and purpose is one of the most important things a CEO can do to ensure lasting success.

Most organisations adopt a mission statement. It’s announced with great fanfare, hung in the breakroom, and quickly forgotten. If a mission isn’t lived and purpose isn’t reinforced, employees feel unfocused and directionless, unable to see the bigger picture. People want to feel as though their organisation and their day-to-day work makes a difference.

Mission statements only tell what organisations do, but purpose-driven cultures show why they do it. With purpose, employees have meaning and connection. Employees don’t need specific direction for every action, because they understand their role on the team and are motivated to deliver real value to the organisation.

Daniel Pink, author of To Sell is Human, got it right when he said that leaders only get their people’s best efforts if they’re connected to purpose and meaning. It brings clarity to what an organisation does, the impact it has, and where the business is headed. That can be a big differentiator, and it can also drive innovation.

Just look at Nike. Internally, Nike talks about bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete. When Nike defined its purpose, it asked: “Who’s an athlete?” Nike decided an “athlete” is not just someone with world-class physical talent – it’s anyone who engages in sports.

That clarity has led to inspiration, promoted innovation, and sustained the company’s place in the Fortune 100. Employees around the world know that the project they work on will help one of those athletes.

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