There is a renewed model of connection and leadership in business. Some folks do this naturally, and the rest of us require a little bit of practice. For those of us that require some practice, build a shared vision, a business PURPOSE that guides and propels progress. The most effective and remembered leaders of our time, and the most successful companies, will be builders of purpose, which inspire the people both inside and outside the organization.
Geoff McDonald, Global Vice President HR for marketing, communications, sustainability and talent at fast-moving consumer goods company Unilever, suggests that businesses with a clear purpose and that align leadership and infrastructure to realize and support that purpose will be able to create sustainability in the longer term.
The 3rd annual Deloitte Core Beliefs & Culture Survey, reveals that organisations with a strong sense of purpose — described as a focus on making a positive impact on customers, employees and the society in general — are more confident in growth prospects, are more likely to invest in initiatives that lead to long-term growth and enjoy higher levels of confidence among key stakeholders.
According to the results of the survey, 82% of respondents (executives and employees) who work full-time for an organisation with a strong sense of purpose say that they are confident that their organisation will grow this year, compared to 48% of those in an organisation without a strong sense of purpose.
Survey findings also indicate a link between organisational purpose and stakeholder confidence. Of respondents working for organisations with a strong sense of purpose, 81% say their stakeholders trust their leadership team; 74% say their investors are confident in the organisation’s growth prospects over the next year. For organisations that do not have a strong sense of purpose, the comparable findings are 54% and 52% respectively.
Looking ahead, respondents who say their organisations have a stronger sense of purpose are much more optimistic about their future prospects and their ability to stay ahead of industry disruptions (83% vs. 42%) and their long-term ability to outperform competition (79% vs. 47%).
That said, despite the advantages the research links to a strong sense of purpose, 20% of all respondents say that leadership fails to set an example for the rest of the organisation by truly living the organisation’s purpose.
“Our survey findings highlight the connection between sustained business success and working with purpose to deliver positive impacts for stakeholders — including clients, employees, investors and community,” said Renjen. “The research also emphasizes the need for leaders to not only articulate a culture of purpose but to visibly and consistently embody those behaviors. And that is a terrific blueprint for any organisation that wants to become and remain exceptional.”
In today’s environment of acquisitions, alliances, and mergers, it is critical to business success to navigate and articulate a strong purpose. In the 1990s, for example, Cisco enjoyed massive growth almost exclusively from acquisitions. Even with the huge growth, the company has spent most of this century struggling. Studies have indicated that acquisition-based growth strategies are more likely to fail than succeed as they often forget the reason they exist – their purpose – and the value of having employees that align with that purpose.
When employees are connect to their company through purpose, they are personally pursuing what the company is pursuing. They will make extraordinary efforts to ensure company success.
Great leaders will be measured by their ability to guide and propel progress through well-articulated growth strategies and defined measures of success and alignment with its purpose; creating company vision, sustainability and profit.