Lead with Purpose
Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself
Author: John Baldoni
Pub Date: November 2011
Print Edition: $18.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436608
Page Count: 224
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814417393
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Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within
yourself, in your way of thinking.
When organizations succeed, it is because they know what they
do and why they do it. We say they have ‘‘purpose.’’
Let me share a story. Not long ago I walked into an Apple store to
inquire when the company might be introducing an external keyboard
for the iPhone. The young man who handled my query was polite,
but direct, ‘‘We are committed to the onscreen keyboard.’’ Note the
word ‘‘we.’’ How many times have you heard a clerk in a store refer
to the business as ‘‘we,’’ in particular to a customer who wants something
the store does not carry? While some might have thought the
young man arrogant, I did not. I considered him committed. His demeanor
demonstrated that he believed in Apple, its product line, and
its organizational purpose. This young man was acting on purpose,
for purpose, and with purpose.
When I share this story with senior executives, I ask them: What
would you give to have an entire company full of employees like the
young man who assisted me? They smile wistfully, knowing that such
commitment is rare. But in reality, it is only rare because companies
do not take enough time to nurture such purposeful attitudes and
results in the workplace.
It is up to leaders to make certain that organizational purpose is
understood and acted upon. Based upon research and interviews with
business executives in multiple sectors, I have concluded that there
are seven key people-smart things that organizations must do to succeed
in the new future.
1. Make purpose a central focus. Organizations that succeed are
those that know where they are headed and why. It is up to leaders to
use that sense of purpose to shape the destiny of their organizations
and leverage the talents of the people in them to achieve intended
2. Instill purpose in others. While it may be a cliche´ to say that
‘‘people matter,’’ reality dictates that they do indeed matter. It is important
to teach purpose to your people so that they have a sense of
what the organization does and the role they play in it.
3. Make employees comfortable with ambiguity. The world as
we knew it at the beginning of the century is over and it is never
coming back. With this new reality comes a sense of unease. We had
grown accustomed to growth as a universal right. No longer will that
be true. What will be true however is that purpose can provide clarity
in unsettled times. Having strong purpose can provide the direction
that employees need to navigate through ambiguity.
4. Turn good intentions into great results. The world is tough
and people matter, but you still have to get the work done. Purpose
can be an enabling factor that provides the link people need to connect
what they do to what the organization needs them to do. When
that happens, employees can turn ideas into practical applications that
satisfy customer needs.
5. Make it safe to fail (as well as prevail). Purpose is the engine
of innovation. While innovation relies upon creativity for spark, it is
purpose that turns ideas into practical concepts. No company will
succeed all of the time, but it needs to allow its work force to think
and act creatively (and occasionally fail) as a means of preparing the
organization to meet new and emerging challenges.
6. Develop the next generation. Few senior executives will be in
their current jobs in five or ten years from now. They may be heading
other organizations or they may have retired. Savvy organizations are
purposeful about how they develop future leaders. They integrate
leadership development into how they run their operations.
7. Prepare yourself. Purposeful organizations need leaders who
know themselves first; that is, they have an inner compass that points
them in the right direction. Such leaders catalyze their own purpose
to help their organizations succeed.
This is not by any means an exclusive list of factors affecting people-
smart development. In fact, it is only a starting point. The final
chapter of this book will explore how leaders can begin to think about,
identify, and ultimately learn to cope or take advantage of the factors
shaping their own businesses with regard to their own people development.
Purpose can be a driving force for an organization to achieve its
intended results. Purpose forms the backbone of what an organization
exists to do; upon which you can build vision and mission. A central
challenge for leaders is to bring people together for common cause.
That’s purpose. Purpose is the why behind everything within an organization.
This book will show how leaders can unlock the purpose of their
organizations and put it to good use for employees to apply to their
own jobs. The net effect is to help individuals, teams, and organizations
to optimize performance by understanding how to use purpose
for good intention.
Leveraging Lessons to Meet Future Challenges
Leaders use purpose to build strong organizations. Importantly, leaders
also challenge themselves as well as their employees to lead with,
for, and on purpose. That becomes possible because purposeful people
have an inner strength that we sometimes overlook: an ability to
adapt. Yes, change can be hard, even painful, but executives are among
the most capable and resourceful people on the planet. The ideas developed
in this book will provide leaders with an approach and a
methodology to leverage purpose that is robust, vibrant, and most of
all, flexible and resilient.
How well leaders use purpose to create the vision, mold the mission,
and shape the values will serve as a testament to their ability to
bring people together for common cause. All of us cherish the opportunity
to participate in endeavors that engage our intellect, capture
our hearts, and enrich our spirits. Purpose can be the great enabler
that links leaders and followers together in order to make a positive
difference in their organizations.
It is important for business and public sector leaders to understand
their responsibility to instill purpose in the workplace in order
to harness the talents of their people. Not only will they succeed in
the present but they will also prevail for generations to come.
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