Giving People Purpose
As leaders, we are expected, to define the vision for the organisation, team or group. It is true that people find a common purpose as essential to them feeling connected to the organisation. Dr Jacqueline Peters (@DrJacquelineP) states that a “Purpose provides the energy to overcome problems”. In my experience, as both a leader and working with my coaching clients, it can often be challenging to get your team engaged. They need to feel connected to the overall vision. Therefore, creating a vision that gives people purpose is essential.
How do you as the leader achieve this?
I will start with how “not to do it”. I strongly recommend you do not shut yourself away for hours and/or days trying to come up with a clever set of words that communicate some incredibly large aspirational and inspirational statement. There are two reasons for this:
1) We often do our best thinking when we have someone else’s attention. So, working in isolation means we may get stuck on the same words and end up refine something that is not very creative.
2) It is easier to get people engaged in the long run if they are part of the original thinking process.
In my experience, the most effective way of creating a vision, is working together as a team to define what their “Why” is. As Simon Sinek says; we often refer to what we do or how we do something rather than why we do something.
Understanding why we are a team, or even at the individual level why are we there, can help us to truly understand our purpose. That genuinely identifies the uniqueness of the organisation, group or team. In order to get to your purpose I recommend writing up 3 sets of words: Words that do not align with the business, those that do or will and those that are ambiguous and unclear. Then ensure that your vision uses words the are clear and unambiguous, whilst clarifying the ambiguous words, perhaps in a glossary. I also suggest you do not try to do this in one session. It takes time to get to the right vision statement, let it “prove” between sessions and ensure that everyone is contributing and engaged with the process.
Once you have it, use it. And I mean all the time, everyone should be able to quote it and feel proud of it. As the leader, encourage the team to test that everything they are doing supports it….