As many businesses find themselves wrapping up their strategic planning cycle, they’re having to grapple with seemingly more aggravating challenges—inflation concerns, continued hiring challenges, and the supply chain. So why should anyone in business care about purpose being part of the many challenges that already exist?

Investors to the end customer are seeking from companies more than words on a website with donations. You can no longer get away with a purpose statement being a random act of marketing – it’s not a holiday event, a shared promotion, nor a one-off community workday. It must be a part of your culture and core values that is lived and felt each and every day.

The Core of Purpose for Organizations

There are four core beliefs, or pillars, about purpose, that organizations should establish to form a strong foundation for their company and brands:

  1. A well-defined purpose is critical in recruiting and retaining talent.

With the talent shortages that have been felt widespread across the globe,  it’s not surprising that many CEOs have been saying that recruiting and securing quality talent will be the number one challenge facing their company in 2023. As many of you know, finding good talent is harder than ever – and surprisingly, only 19 percent of today’s job seekers are looking for more money alone. In fact, between 65 and 70 percent of job seekers cite cultural alignment as a key factor in choosing a place to work – placing even greater pressure on companies to have a well-defined purpose.

Even though Gen Z and Millennials have applied the most pressure in the purpose paradigm, there is something we can all rally behind: We all want to work for something that excites us, and gets us out of bed each day. Alignment between the organization and the people who make up that organization is needed for optimal health and productivity. This is why purpose should be at the center of your recruiting and on-boarding efforts, in addition to acting as the primary lens in which all decisions are filtered through within your organization —and not just a pithy line in your recruiting dialogue or a statement stenciled on your wall.

  1. Purpose provides focus and builds brand equity.

Purpose led companies put their purpose into practice through clarity, alignment and discipline.  Having a clear Purpose can help you make decisions that live into the vision of your organization and exemplify your values. This clarity can also help you avoid chasing after the shiny objects that can dilute your brand and help you stay focused on your strengths as an organization. A purpose-led company not only encourages Alignment, meaning the organization’s priorities, people, processes, and procedures support the vision and values of the organization; but they also exercise Discipline, determinedly pursuing those few things in a way that’s healthy, productive and profitable. Stick to where your purpose is—where you’re known for excellence. When Purpose is confusing or ambiguous, organizations will struggle to make meaningful progress.

Our advice: Never overreach and stick to where you have authenticity and credibility.

  1. Purpose must always be genuine to your brand promise.

Do you remember why you started your company? Do you know the promise you make to your customers that you fulfill every day? If you’re like most organizations we work with, you likely were trying to solve a problem you felt needed a solution that was not readily available in the market. Was it to provide a better service that saved people time and money? Was it to create jobs in your local community? A better product choice? A more environmentally friendly way of doing things? Without realizing it, there was most likely some sense of purpose that led to the founding of your company.

In our Prioritized Leader work across the country, brand promise is a great place to (re)start the purpose conversation. After all, we are usually more credible as a brand when we are doing things we already do with excellence. When Purpose is clear, compelling growth and impact are unlimited.

Our advice: Go back to the founder’s roots. Ask: Why was it set up? What is it trying to do? This is where you will most likely find your authentic purpose.

  1. When your business faces uncertainty, it’s time to double-down on purpose. 

As we are staring down a recession, most CEOs’ reflex is to cut extraneous programs. But should you be using purpose as an anchor—or ballast? Purpose can serve as a rallying cry—uniting employees to stick with it in tough times, giving customers more reasons to stick with you as prices increase, and reminding you of why you chose to be in this business to begin with. If you stop, you lose credibility. Purpose, when authentic and prioritized in this manner, can be a profit center, not an expense line-item.

Jim Collins refers to your Core Purpose as your company’s reason for being.  It answers the big question WHY?  “Why do we exist as a business?” “What is our deeper purpose and meaning?” “Why are we passionate about the work we do?”

This shouldn’t change regardless of difficult market circumstances. If you abandon your purpose in tough times it will only undermine your credibility, authenticity and investment. Your purpose is your North Star that guides you in tough times. It doesn’t necessarily make decisions easier, but it does make them clearer. Because purpose is proven to impact the loyalty of your customers as well as the engagement of your employees, you should protect both as much as you can.

So, ask yourself this: Why not purpose? This is the time to examine your priorities and be prepared for the next market challenge.

Is Your Company Prepared?

  1. What is your plan for creating passion and purpose in your organization?
  2. Does every employee know the bigger picture of how their role fits with the mission of the company?
  3. How well are you authentically living into your purpose today?
  4. How well do your employees believe you are living into your purpose today as an organization?
  5. Are you encouraging your vision and values to come to life within your organization today?
  6. What is more important – alignment and enthusiasm or raw talent?

Do you struggle to get your leadership team all on the same page? Do you find yourself tempted to prioritize profits at the expense of your people, vision and values? A leader who lives out the right perspective brings inspiration, energy, collaboration and focus to those around them. They bring about a greater good than the individual members could ever do on their own. They lead with humble confidence as well as courageous action. This is the perspective that’s needed to go after greatness in business today. Contact us today for more information on how our Prioritized Leader program can bring clarity to your purpose.