Have you wondered lately what the most important steps are that you can take as a leader to position your company for the future? A look at some current trends sheds light on this important question. The reality is that employees have a growing desire to be part of something purposeful beyond bottom-line financials. That’s the reason that great leaders value helping people understand not just the what and how behind what they do every day, but also the why. I’d go so far as to say that prioritizing this outcome is the secret sauce behind an organization’s sustained growth and success.
A timely new study called the Covestro i3Index emphasized this point, releasing its findings that support the fact that “the age of the ‘purpose-driven’ company has taken root—and will continue to grow in the coming decade.” Based on its national survey of Fortune 1000 CEOs and other C-suite execs in the U.S., Covestro reported that “Stakeholders, including top talent, increasingly are demanding companies have a purpose beyond making a profit and the C-suite itself recognizes that a company’s future success and competitiveness will hinge on its commitment to helping solve society’s problems.”
Some key findings from the research point the way toward how companies must be prepared to lead with a purpose-driven approach in the future:
- Nearly 70 percent of senior executives believe that balancing profit and purpose has a positive transformational impact on business.
- The C-suite also believes that empowering employees’ sense of purpose and providing them with expanded opportunities to do purposeful work helps the business as well as employees.
- 80 percent agree that a company’s future success and growth will depend on having a mission that’s driven by values.
This study’s message reiterates what SHAMBAUGH’s research has found about the importance of purpose in the workplace, and why we recently launched our “Power of One” initiative. We’ve reported that there has been an escalating demand for leaders who can bring about not only a sense of inclusion and belongingness, but also a sense of passion and purpose. Purpose is intricately linked to feelings of connectedness between people and teams—feelings that are needed to help groups achieve their collective goals, which can further a company’s mission.
Much of this has to do with engagement. When SHAMBAUGH set out to research what would support or thwart greater inclusiveness in a work environment, one of the key discoveries from our focus groups was that organizations need to move beyond simply addressing lack of diversity. The additional element that organizations of the future must consider is lack of engagement. When coaching Fortune 500 executives, I’ve noticed that low engagement levels among teams often correlates with employees not clearly understanding the “why” behind their actions.
For example, when working with a particular segment of a client’s workforce, many of the teams described that they were frequently asked to drive hard toward results and push to meet unreasonable deadlines—without understanding the reason why their company was asking for this extreme intensity level. Understandably, after too many times of being called to work into the night, employees started to burn out, and many ultimately opted out by becoming disengaged or even leaving the company.
This retention problem could have been largely avoided by simply tying the challenging circumstances and over-the-top “asks” to purpose. By shifting away from a mentality that prioritizes only striving for business results to one that’s more inspirational in helping employees see how their work aligns with the larger picture, leaders can harness the Power of One to help engage and connect people and teams.
With the demand for purpose-driven companies poised to escalate over the next decade, it’s clear that defining purpose should be a critical goal for every executive who leads teams. So ask yourself: what am I doing as a leader to help foster a sense of mission and purpose on my teams? How can I change the conversation so that people aren’t just expected to perform based on financials, but have a clear link to how their role connects to something that feels more meaningful to them?
If you have insights to share on what’s worked well for your teams to increase engagement, I’d love to hear about them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rebecca Shambaugh is the Founder of Women in Leadership and Learning, a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, and blogger for the Huffington Post. She is author of the best-selling books It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor and Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results.
We’re on a mission to develop high-performing and inclusive leaders who transform workplace cultures so everyone can thrive. Find out more about us at: www.shambaughleadership.com