The power of purpose and why it matters now



We’ve all heard of the importance of the goal to both organizations and people, but as work changes and hybrid work models become the norm, the goal has gained in importance. .

After a year and a half, we need to re-motivate ourselves. Additionally, as leaders, we need to make sure we attract the best talent, retain people, and engage hearts and minds. The goal is an essential means of accomplishing them.

But there is more to the goal and what it takes to goal make a difference, for people or for organizations.

The goal is important to people and organizations

Starting with people, goal matters in many ways. For example, a study in Psychosomatic medicine found when people have a greater sense of purpose, they have less impact of cardiovascular disease and lower mortality. Additionally, a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania found that when people have a greater sense of purpose, they experience less loneliness and make better lifestyle choices to protect their health in the face of Covid-19.

The goal is also powerful for business. A study published by Harvard business review Found when businesses had a clearly articulated goal that was widely understood in the organization, they had better growth compared to businesses that had not developed or leveraged their goal. Concretely, 52% of specific vocation companies experienced a growth of more than 10% against 42% of non-targeted companies. Special purpose businesses have benefited from greater global expansion (66% vs. 48%), more product launches (56% vs. 33%), and the success of major transformation efforts (52% against 16%).

The goal also offers benefits in terms of work experience. A Northwestern University study found that when companies had a bigger purpose, their employees said their work was more meaningful. And research from the University of Sussex has found that when leaders demonstrate a clear purpose – a vision, a commitment to stakeholders, and a strong morale – their employees are happier and more productive.

Why the goal is important now

The goal has always impacted people and businesses, but the disruption of the past year and a half amplifies its significance: when we couldn’t get out so much, when we were isolated from our people, and when our lives were turned upside down, we were reminded of what really mattered to us. By their absence or bewilderment, we were reminded of what we needed and wanted for a busy life. The goal has been put at the forefront of people’s concerns.

Additionally, we’re in the midst of nothing short of a talent revolution with 40% of people saying they plan to leave their current employer (according to a Microsoft survey) and 43% of companies saying they will look to increase. their workforce (according to a McKinsey study). When people choose to leave a company, join a new organization, or stay in their current position, the goal is a factor that will significantly influence their choices.

Define the goal and dream small

Usually the goal is the belief that your life matters and that you are making a difference. It is the feeling of being guided by meaningful values ​​and goals. The goal may be related to family or parenthood, career, religion, activism, artistic endeavor, or other contributions to the community. In Japanese, the word Ikigai describes a reason for being, or a reason for waking up in the morning.

The goal should not change the world either. It can simply be the expression of your talents to help your family or friends. One woman expressed her ikigai – her reason for getting up in the morning – as the need and desire to make soup for her family. And dreaming small is useful. The goal doesn’t have to include pressure to find cures for diseases or inspire world peace, it can just do the next thing that makes sense and perform work that allows you to express your unique abilities to help people. others or contribute to the wider community. .

The importance of alignment

A key part of the goal is alignment. We will be more engaged in our work when the mission and goals of the organization are also important to us and when we feel we can make a contribution to the bigger picture. We all want to build castles, not just lay bricks. For example, working on an industrial line of hardware (think: hooks, doorknobs) contributes to our collective need for beauty and efficiency in our environments. Or, serving coffee in a restaurant contributes to opportunities for people to come together in conversation and community. The bookkeeper who processes payments at the university helps students learn and paves the way for them to achieve their goals. Companies that can develop a strong goal, but also help people see how they’re contributing to it, will reap the greatest rewards in terms of employees putting in discretionary effort and waking up full of energy for their day.

While a strong goal can motivate and engage, it can also help people choose and clarify their investments of time and effort. Years ago I worked with Helen who was morally opposed to an industry our company served. She asked to stop working on these accounts. We hosted her and she was able to brilliantly contribute to other accounts while team members who didn’t share her concerns served the other account. Or think of Josie who quit her job at a well-known company because she disagreed with what she perceived to be the negative impact they were having on the community. Purpose can help individuals and businesses make choices that ensure the best fit between values, talents, and contributions.

Significant action

In applying the goal, there are 4 key actions that matter most:

First, clarify the purpose. As an individual or as a business, define your goal in as much detail and clarity as possible, identifying what makes your goal different and what makes your contribution unique.

Then articulate the goal. Whether you are an individual or a business, write down your goal and review it regularly to keep it up to date. Companies need to communicate their purpose in a broad and regular manner, reminding people why the organization exists and what they are looking to accomplish so that people have a focus from their work to the importance of the work of the company. business as a whole. Organizations can leverage the goal to unify the organization and galvanize and energize stakeholders.

Then choose well. Actively use the goal to make choices. No choice is ideal, but as individuals we can choose a volunteer job or effort or a task that comes as close as possible to what matters most to us. And we can remember how even the smallest daily tasks lead to something bigger than ourselves. Businesses and executives can use the goal to make strategic choices: where to play and how to win. They can take the objective into account when defining their markets, their value propositions and their plans for the future. And they can use their lens to broaden and strengthen their impact.

Finally, stay agile. Monitor, measure, reassess and reassess regularly. Circumstances and context will change, and individuals and organizations alike will have to change and adapt. It’s resilience, and it will be important for the future of work in general and for the work each of us does.

In sum

The goal is a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be rocket science. Keep the big picture in mind and make sure actions are aligned with what matters most to you, as a leader within a company or as an individual. As many people have said, “We are the choices we make. Or this, “We are what we do over and over.” Goal should guide all of these choices and actions – and we will be happier and more fulfilled when our choices and actions are aligned with a clear purpose.


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