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Creating a Culture of Purpose: Culture Series

Culture in any organization isn’t a rock-solid, steadfast entity. It is a living, breathing environment that ebbs and flows along with the individuals existing within its structure. The leader is this structure’s heartbeat, providing the blood flow that drives this movement each given day. They positively or negatively affect it and, as a result, impact each team, workgroup, and person daily. It is a leader’s responsibility to keep their finger on the pulse of the overall culture to ensure that it sets the stage for effectiveness and efficiency in pursuing the desired purpose.

A clearly defined, compelling purpose sits at the core of organizations that seek to produce at the highest levels. The purpose is the outcome it wants to impact through its efforts. It recognizes the importance of carefully designing expected behaviors that drive toward achieving that purpose so that work remains meaningful and motivational to everyone involved.

Teams connect with purpose through a blended emotional and intellectual bond. Emotion drives their feelings of importance to the work being done, and the intellect connects the necessary behaviors to the outcomes. Both are necessary and must be aligned with a clear vision of why they do what they do.

Here are some tips for creating alignment under that vision:

  • Define a clear and compelling purpose

    • Figure out what you stand for and what you are working toward

    • Figure out how it can be explained to others

    • Define it in its simplest terms

    • Connect emotion to it so everyone can believe in it

  • Involve the team in defining the execution of it

    • Engage the minds of trusted employees to help with the heavy lifting

    • Seek out ideas and challenges to ideas

    • Look to your top performer for examples of the purpose being executed

  • Connect every role to the purpose

    • Build purpose into every job description and team member expectation

    • Establish a connection to every step of the employee life-cycle, from interviewing to hiring to onboarding to coaching

  • Measure it

    • Define metrics that are equal to the purpose

    • Define ways to track your progress

    • Define ways to know if you are winning or not

    • Post results for all to see

  • Build formal & informal recognition around it

    • Be intentional with your communication

    • Everything should tie to the purpose

    • Build this into your consistent leadership rhythm

    • Every meeting should begin with a review of your purpose, using examples of success and challenges to shortfalls

    • Celebrate wins in accordance with the impact on Purpose

      • Win big, celebrate big

      • Win small, celebrate small

  • Exemplify expected behaviors

    • Teach it

    • Lead by example

    • Look for improvement opportunities

    • Coach to it

  • Course Correct if necessary

    • Identify and Close Performance Gaps

    • Remain flexible in the execution, not the expectation

As I began, culture is a living entity. You are never truly finished with its development. It is a continuous effort that needs clear focus each day. But don’t feel like you are alone. Leaders shouldn’t feel like they are on an island in their pursuits. Connect with your team. Look to them for examples of greatness and voices of reason. The best teams have a clearly focused, strong leader who values and encourages open dialogue to help them make the decisions that lead the organization closer and closer to its purpose.

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