Three Keys For Leading On Purpose In a Rapidly Shifting Environment
Listen to Episode 105:
Episode 105 Transcript:
This episode is brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of growth. On the web at www.businessadvance.com. And now, here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thanks, Chris. I’m Pam Harper, Founding Partner and CEO of Business Advancement Incorporated, and right across from me as always is my business partner and husband, Scott Harper. Hi, Scott.
Scott Harper: Hi, Pam. It’s always great to be with you for another episode of Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. If this is your first time listening, our purpose is to spark new insights, inspiration, and immediately useful ideas for visionary leaders and their companies to accelerate to their next level of success. Pam, what’s up for today’s conversation?
Pam Harper: Our purpose is to talk about purpose.
Scott Harper: Okay. Well, that’s a good one.
Pam Harper: Leading on purpose, and what it means as the business environment is going through very, very rapid unprecedented shifts.
This concept of leading on purpose − finding the meaning behind what your company does and how things are done − has gone from being an emerging trend to now being very mainstream.
Scott Harper: Right.
Pam Harper: It’s been discussed among leaders of Fortune companies in Davos and most recently, was the focus of the February 2017 issue of Fast Company that says, “Find your purpose.”
Scott Harper: Yeah, right there on the cover. But as with any concept that becomes popularized and wide spread in business or any other part of the culture, “purpose” runs the risk of becoming a buzz word. Maybe even some people already think it is a buzz word.
Pam Harper: Actually, I Googled it, and sure enough, for some people, it is already a buzz word; and that’s a shame, because it has real meaning.
Scott Harper: The thing about buzz words that people start to feel cynical about is that, as with the vision statement or the mission statement, challenges can pop up if there isn’t a shared concept of what that word really means, and it doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody. So what do we mean by “purpose?” − because we talk about it a lot.
Pam Harper: Purpose in this case is going back again to the “why” behind what we do and what we believe. It’s personal. It has to be personal. It has to be authentic. Whereas a mission statement for many people has also been called a “purpose statement,” “mission” is much more about something we’re doing. A mission statement might change a lot more quickly than a purpose statement. A vision statement can also change, but a purpose statement − if it’s real, if it’s authentic − does not change at it’s core.
Scott Harper: How does that differ from say, “values,”? Because people get cynical about value statements sometimes, as well.
Pam Harper: Values are endearing too. However, they’re different in that they address principles of ethical behavior, which is different than a purpose.
Scott Harper: Okay. Right. How so?
Pam Harper: A purpose is a reason for why you do what you do. That’s what creates the passion.
Scott Harper: And it’s very enduring and really grounded in things you really feel, that are really motivating to you.
Pam Harper: That matters; right. In this rapidly shifting environment, where we don’t really know from one day to the next what’s going to happen in the world, in the business environment − anywhere − we have to figure out why it is that we’re doing what we’re doing. Why does it matter?
That extends to ourselves as leaders. It also extends to our organization. “Why are we doing what we’re doing?” What’s different today though, is as an increasing number of companies have articulated purpose statements, it changes everybody’s expectations. More people have expectations that the companies they’re dealing with have a purpose.
Scott Harper: Yes, and we’ve spoken before about the power of why. But yet, as you say, it’s a double-edged sword. Everybody looks not just for purpose, but authentic purpose − and the evidence that the purpose is actually being carried out. It has to be consistent with how all stakeholders perceive that the company is acting and the people who are part of the company are acting, or it can really backfire.
Pam Harper: That’s right. So what we want to do in this episode is talk about three key concepts that we’ve seen can enable us to lead with more purpose. You’re right − it comes down most of all to finding your authentic purpose. That is, the truer we are to ourselves about why we’re doing what we’re doing, and what’s the meaning that it all has, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to lead on purpose no matter how the environment shifts back and forth.
Scott Harper: Right.
Pam Harper: Now we’re going to take a quick break. When we come back, we’ll talk more about three keys for leading on purpose in a rapidly shifting business environment. Stay with us.
Scott Harper: We’re glad to have you with us on Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. We’re brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated, where we focus on enabling visionary leaders to dramatically increase momentum in their companies for game-changing results. We’re on the web at businessadvance.com.
Pam Harper: Does this topic resonate with you? Check out related episodes to expand your perspectives and take away even more immediately actionable ideas. Just go to growthignitersradio.com, episode 105, and scroll down to “Resources.”
Scott Harper: And while you’re there, sign up for our weekly alert of upcoming episodes, so you’ll always be up to date.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper − that’s me − and Scott Harper. Today, Scott and I are speaking about three keys for leading on purpose in a rapidly shifting environment. In the first segment, Scott and I discussed the importance of having an authentic purpose.
Scott Harper: Okay, so let’s dig deeper into this idea. We said there were three main principles we’ve discovered about connecting with our authentic purpose and making it inform everything that we do, cascading down through the company. It’s a broad topic, so what can we do to narrow it down and really focus on things that make sense in making purpose come to life?
Pam Harper: The first key is that a purpose needs to be discovered.
Scott Harper: Ahhhh… yes.
Pam Harper: People sometimes say to me, “I haven’t put a purpose in yet.” or “We haven’t come up with our purpose yet.” To that, I say, “You always have a purpose.” It’s the same as “you always have a culture.”
Scott Harper: Yeah. It just may not be top of mind; you may not have articulated it.
Pam Harper: Everything that you do is about your purpose. I remember working with a client that was going through a dramatic transformation. One of the things that we did was to speak with every employee − there were a few hundred. We asked each person, “What is the purpose of your role in the company?” We dis this from the CEO all the way through to the front line.
Scott Harper: Right.
Pam Harper: It was hard for some people to think about what was their purpose − what was the purpose of what they were doing, and what was the purpose of their role? It’s not always one and the same.
Scott Harper: Not at all. I have a feeling you didn’t find a lot of uniformity.
Pam Harper: That was one of the big ah-ha’s. Many of the people had different understandings of what their purpose was. Some people were very well lined up with why they were doing what they were doing. But other people said, “You know, I hadn’t really considered why I do what I do. I hadn’t really considered why the role was accountable for doing these things.” So it became a discovery exercise. I think that’s the way we have to think about finding an authentic purpose.
Scott Harper: Okay.
Pam Harper: Again, it’s, “Why do we do what we do?”
Scott Harper: Yeah, so it has to be tied to an emotionally relevant and resonant personal belief system. As you just saidwhen you talked to these people in the company, their individual purposes didn’t always line up. That’s why it’s so important that leaders at the top of the company really dig into what their purpose is − how does that inform what the company is about? Then that can cascade when they express it and talk about it. That can cascade down throughout the company.
Pam Harper: And across the whole organization. In fact, that’s the second key. For a purpose to be authentic, it has to be tied to your personal belief system.
Scott Harper: Right.
Pam Harper: Now, in that issue of Fast Company that I referred to in segment one, one of the companies that was profiled was PepsiCo. Indra Nooyi, the CEO, explained that one of the three pillars of their purpose was actually protecting our planet by using sustainable practices. One of these practices was, in fact, regarding water.
Scott Harper: Having safe sustainable water supplies in all parts of the world where they actually bottle PepsiCo products − right; I remember that.
Pam Harper: That’s right; and she was explaining in the article that this was very personal to her, that she had grown up in part of Southern India where the water was not plentiful.
Scott Harper: There is a tremendous water stress. Right.
Pam Harper: PepsiCo operates all over the world. For her, it was something that she passionately believed in, and even though we were reading this article, for me, it was something that was very memorable. Can you imagine if you were part of the PepsiCo team? It would be something that would be talked about quite a bit. Again, related to value, but in this case, probably a lot of discussions about why we should care and why she cares most specifically.
It’s one thing to be talking about why you care about something, and another to be saying why somebody else should care.
Scott Harper: Right. And so that goes to the third key principle of bringing purpose to life in companies and making it the center of everything that the company does. It’s “my purpose is not necessarily your purpose until we unite together.” We need to find ways to bring purpose to life …
Pam Harper: That’s right, and stories are where that comes into play. The more that conversations are at a level that lets others in, and we’re co-creating this purpose − it’s not my purpose or your purpose, it’s our purpose, it becomes a shared purpose.
Scott Harper: That becomes the big “why,” and that really unites people no matter where they’re coming from.
Pam Harper: And it creates passion.
Scott Harper: Right. For instance, let’s talk about the purpose of Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper.
Pam Harper: Okay.
Scott Harper: I talk about it at the beginning of every single episode. It didn’t come from just sitting around saying, “Well, this is going to sound nice.” We came up with the purpose of this podcast series from conversations we had with a variety of CEOs and other business executives who were saying, “I want to get out to meetings. I want to interact with people. I want to get more ideas, but I don’t have time. I don’t have time necessarily to read all the books that are out there on my shelf.”
Pam Harper: That’s right. I actually did a focus group of sorts with a cross-section of senior executives, and that was what they told me.
Scott Harper: Right, and so uniting that idea with our purpose at Business Advancement Incorporated of helping leaders make work and make their businesses a force for good in the world − making the world a better place through their business − we came up with the idea of this podcast series …
Pam Harper: And we believe in community. If we could reach out to a broader world through technology, then on a weekly basis, we could start conversations going − and that in fact is what’s been happening.
Scott Harper: So our purpose that I talk about each time is not just words. It guides us in decision and action. Every time we decide what conversation we’re going to have, whether it’s between you and me, or with a CEO, or with an author, we ask, “How does this conversation and how we’re going to shape it serve our purpose, and serve our community that shares that purpose with us?”
Pam Harper: That’s right, and that takes us to immediately useful ideas. We’re going to take another quick break, and when we come back, we’ll talk more about three keys for leading on purpose in a rapidly shifting environment. Stay with us.
Scott Harper: This is Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. We’re brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated. On the web at businessadvance.com.
Pam Harper: Does your company have what it takes to stay on purpose, meet your current commitments, and move fast enough to respond on new opportunities? Take the first step to confirm your perspective by requesting our free resource, “Five Questions To Ask When You Need To Move Even Faster.”
Scott Harper: This questionnaire will help you find out where to begin to focus your energy and resources so that what should be happening really is happening faster and more effectively and is true to your purpose.
Pam Harper: We’ve developed these questions based on our work with clients in over 30 industries. We’ve helped them scale faster, make innovation happen faster, and more quickly respond to new opportunities. This has generated millions of dollars in top and bottom line growth. Now, you can have this resource on a complimentary basis just for sharing your valid contact information with us.
Scott Harper: Don’t miss out. Go to growthignitersradio.com today and select episode 105. Scroll down to “Resources” and click the link “Download ‘Five Questions To Ask When You Need To Move Even Faster.’ And to learn more about our success stories, go to businessadvance.com/Client-Results.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Over the last two segments, Scott and I have been discussing what it takes to lead on purpose, and three key principles for doing this, especially in our very rapidly shifting environment. For resources associated with this episode, go to growthignitersradio.com, select episode 105, and scroll down under “Resources.”
Scott Harper: Okay, Pam. We have covered the broad-brush ideas of this very important topic of being on purpose, especially as the business environment is changing so quickly. Now, let’s get down to some nitty-gritty. What are the three practical actionable ideas that people can do to put this idea and to practice?
Pam Harper: Okay. Well, we’re going to tie them back to the principles that we were talking about in the second segment. The first idea relates to discovering your real purpose − your authentic purpose. That is to look at your company’s strategic priorities with fresh eyes and ears so that you can see − does what you’re doing on a day in and day out basis relate to what’s most important to you?
Scott Harper: Okay, so let’s talk about a specific example of that. We were talking earlier about PepsiCo and their purpose.
Pam Harper: That’s right. Remember that in the second segment, we spoke about protecting our planet as being one of the pillars of purpose that PepsiCo has. That would mean that they might be looking at what is it that they’re doing in terms of their strategic priorities that fits into that pillar of protecting our planet.
Scott Harper: Right. You said that that particular pillar of the three-part PepsiCo’s purpose is based upon Indra Nooyi’s values and experience. That that goes to the second actionable point, which relates to tying that purpose to something that is really meaningful to you, and then rippling out to what’s meaningful to others.
Pam Harper: Okay, so what we’re talking about here in the second idea is to ask why whatever it is you’re doing is important; for starters to you, because the more that you can think about “why,” the stories that resonate emotionally and not just intellectually, the more you can connect people with shared purpose. So it’s not a matter of, “I think we should do this,” but, “This means something to me.” Indra Nooyi had this story about how she was growing up and what she saw in Southern India in water conservation. Everybody has stories about why they do what they do, and that’s what I learned when I started talking to people in some of our client companies. People have reasons for why they do what they do. Keep in mind, there’s always more to the story.
Scott Harper: Okay.
Pam Harper: If somebody says, “This is what I do. This is why I do it,” and it doesn’t add up, ask “why” again because there’s always more to the story. And that goes for ourselves as well, incidentally.
Scott Harper: So if the company … As we said, companies always have a purpose even if they are not articulating it.
Pam Harper: Well, leaders have a purpose. People have a purpose. It’s expressed in how the company presents itself to the world.
Scott Harper: Okay, so ask why. “Why are we doing this? Why is it that we have these objectives? How do they tie together?” Then you get to the purpose, and then it’s easy to share that and bring it together. And so then there’s a question of, “Okay, Well, what if something’s off … In these conversations, how can you really tell if the company is on purpose, and if it isn’t, what do you do about it?”
Pam Harper: That’s where coming together, uniting on a regular basis is very important. We’ve spoken in previous episode about tapping into your organization’s intelligence. Part of that is encouraging people to share ways that they see that we together could be doing even more to stay on purpose, especially when we’re being challenged to move in different directions.
Scott Harper: Okay.
Pam Harper: Pragmatically, for instance, if regulations are changing and we have to make decisions about what we’re going to do in response to that, how do we stay on purpose and still be responsive to challenges and opportunities that we’ve never faced before? That’s what we’re coming up against at this point in the world.
Scott Harper: And having the environment that encourages those conversations, having the opportunities to have them with not just your employees, but all the major stakeholders that your company impacts and impact your company in doing what you do.
Pam Harper: That’s right. For instance, you might have strategic alliance partners or vendors you can involve in the conversation. There are customers, obviously. There are a lot of different stakeholders that are involved.
For instance, in one company that we know, the CEO reaches out regularly to a variety of vendors and strategic alliance partners weekly to share information back and forth, so that his company can stay on purpose and they can stay on purpose, and they’re working together in the most effective way, responding to these unprecedented shifts.
Scott Harper: The important thing here is that they use these meetings and these conversations not just to share facts − “This is what we’re doing. This is what you need to do. This is what we’re going to do,” but also stories.
Pam Harper: That’s right. Stories that probe into “Why are we doing what we’re doing? What’s the reason for it?”
Scott Harper: Right And examples of how they’re impacting their customers and the world in general. That creates that emotional bond among the different parties with the purpose …
Pam Harper: The trust that you need in order to be able to do that. Sure.
Ultimately, in a rapidly shifting environment, we are going to be tested on how committed we are to our purpose. The more authentic it is for you, and your organization, and your various stakeholders, the easier it will be to stay grounded and yet pivot effectively to respond to new conditions.
Scott Harper: Thanks, Pam. And thanks to you out there for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. To get show notes and resource links for this week’s episode, go to growthignitersradio.com, episode 105.
Pam Harper: Until next time. This is Pam Harper…
Scott Harper: And Scott Harper…
Pam Harper: Wishing you continued success, and leaving you with this question to consider:
Scott Harper: Are you in touch with your real purpose? And how well do you share it with others so you can all respond effectively in this rapidly shifting environment?