By Peter Roman
PURPOSE: “The desire to do what we do in service to something greater than ourselves.”
The authors of a recent book, “Firms of Endearment”, researched hundreds of companies and found that 28 meet these criteria. These companies pay their employees well, deliver value to their customers, are surrounded by a network of prosperous suppliers and bring a rich return for shareholders: 1025% in the last 10 years, versus only 122% for lists companies in the S & P 500 index (which aggregates more than 500 shares relevant to the U.S. market) and 316% for companies listed in the bestselling book “Good to Great”.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to find out that these 28 corporations have one thing in common, a secret that can be applied to our own organizations?
In order to speak about a company’s purpose, it is necessary to clarify the meaning of personal purpose, because companies often reflect the thinking, acting and feeling of people with the power to influence its direction, in particular, shareholders, the board of directors, executives and employees.
That said, let’s talk about what purpose is not. It is not an objective or goal, as these are quantifiable and have an expiration date. There is neither the vision nor the mission because the former refers to an aspiration for the future. The mission, unlike the vision, is a concrete form and indicates action. Purpose does not mean values, although all of purpose has, intrinsically, its value, which is always ethical and life preserving. Finally, purpose is not the intention, which is the quality or “energy” that we put into the actions and attitudes and that will take us possibly to the achievement of personal purpose.
Now many of you must be wondering — what then is purpose?
Purpose is a personal design or plan, a unique and exclusive map that belongs and relates only to the owner. It gives direction that strengthens the will, which motivates and commits us to action. Purpose is what makes us more motivated to wake up and go to work, not only because we are being well-paid but because we sincerely feel that a difference in the world is what gives meaning to our lives and moves us ahead. Being faithful to personal purpose is the only way to live a rewarding and meaningful life. If we remain attentive and alert, we will discover and refine our purpose in everyday life. We have to accept that these situations can be opportunities to learn more about ourselves. They are part of the process and, consequently, are related to our personal purpose.
A company’s purpose is the ultimate meaning that organizes all the business functions related to a corporate brand. In short, it is the statement of how the company intends to contribute to humanity. Company purpose knows that profit is important and indispensable to its existence but should not to be pursued at any cost. It takes into consideration the interests of every stakeholder — shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, financiers, government, community and the environment — for every decision made. A company’s purpose should provide an ethical foundation, pursue company values and encourage systematic decision-making. A company’s purpose is born of the soul of the organization: the symbolic raw material responsible for its founding, the original dream that inspires its existence.
Why is it so important to know more about a company, its values and culture, before accepting their proposal, which seems to good to refuse? Choosing to work in a company whose purpose is in harmony with our own personal purposes means choosing to have a career less stressful, exhausting, and more motivating, rewarding and meaningful.
The companies of today that reward and punish their employees are doomed to failure. While companies that deliver a cause, a purpose of service to society and each employee every day, are aligned and committed to success.
The younger generations believe that money only serves to pay bills and buy things not always necessary. Working for a purpose every day brings more benefits than a slightly larger check at the end of the month.
To help you to assess your company, here is a basic checklist:
– Do you know clearly the feelings and values that motivate the
foundation of your organization?
– Do you know the purpose of your company? Would ten executives in your
organization respond to this question consistently?
– Does your company bring to the world something more significant than
products and services?
– Is your company making profits in a manner consistent with its purpose?
– Is the purpose of your company to help others, assuming it gets higher profits?
Purpose is a unique way for a company to choose to organize its contribution to the world. Choosing to work in a company whose purpose is in harmony with your own purpose means choosing to have a life less stressful, exhausting, and more motivating, rewarding and a lot more meaningful. Purpose is something all employees should feel in their daily tasks.
Live with PURPOSE!