Powerful Purpose

How to Ensure that Powerful Purpose Produces

Clear purpose is essential to the success of any strategy implementation or change. Clear purpose that describes tangible outcomes enables lower- level leaders and front-line employees to truly understand and act toward the desired change. As a leader, your role is to ensure you and your leadership team develop this clear purpose with clear outcomes and  model it every day.

Let’s look at this in more detail, through the lens of both structure and behavior.

Clear purpose with clear outcomes drives the structural approach to driving purpose. This means, that at minimum, the transformation team will be structured to drive various elements. For example, if your transformation is about preparing for exponential growth, you will dedicate resources to hire, place and develop new employees. This may include major efforts to reevaluate job structure. Another example, if your transformation is about merging two organizations, you will dedicate resources to understanding how financial statements may need to change, or how to incorporate both sets of employees into the new organization.

These structural approaches are logical and are not often missed. More important are behavioral approaches to driving purpose yet are often overlooked if not altogether ignored.  In the case of mergers and acquisitions, we can cite many failures due to underestimating the impact of culture.

This clear purpose with clear outcomes not only needs to make sense,  it needs to be built from passion.  This passion starts with the leader and cascades throughout the organization. Leaders need to believe the purpose and outcomes themselves, and then inspire their organization to believe it with them.

There are a few things a leader must do to ensure there is a behavioral or cultural element to defining and implementing purpose.

  1. The leader must be open- minded with their leadership team when creating purpose. Recognize that you don’t have all the answers. Leverage the combined knowledge of your leadership team to develop purpose everyone can support.
  2. Drive clarity. Drive to better rather than “good enough.” Remember that once you leave the meeting room, you and your leaders need to be able to communicate this message throughout the organization. If your purpose and outcomes are not clear, it will leave employees wondering and confused about your message.
  3. Support dissenting views. Both in the leadership team and with all employees, invite criticism. Be vulnerable. Allow people to weigh- in. If they don’t weigh- in, they won’t buy- in.
  4. Be truthful. When you avoid telling the truth in the guise of being kind, you are unkind. Employees want to hear the truth, even when it is messy, or puts their jobs at risk.

These actions may seem simple and straight forward on the surface, but they may require a new and different set of behaviors from the leader and their team.

  1. To be open- minded, you must have a degree of vulnerability. You recognize that you don’t have all the answers, and you are willing to listen to others. Further, you are willing to admit when you are wrong. Employees don’t see this admission as a weakness, rather they see it as a strength.
  2. You need to trust your leadership team to do what’s right for the organization, and that they will be open with you about opportunities and challenges. This takes time to build, but if it’s based on the foundation of vulnerability, it will happen.
  3. Honest dissent. With trust in the organization, leaders and employees alike are better able to challenge each other, with the goal of seeking the best solution for the organization.

These behavioral elements pave the way for a more successful achievement of purpose. You can have all the structural elements in place, but if you aren’t also driving the behavioral elements, your success is in jeopardy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

 

How your personal behavior influences the success of your transformation

I received a call from an organization that was interested in my Activate workshop to handle a behavioral problem in the organization that was creating roadblocks to success. The caller was not a senior leader, but someone in the talent organization. I asked them to introduce the CEO and they declined saying, “Mr. X has asked us to deal with the challenges we are facing; he doesn’t like to deal with these personal, behavioral issues.”

I politely declined the opportunity to work with them.

In my experience, senior leaders are essential to leading transformative change – particularly when that change requires changing behavior in the organization. If the leader is unable to model the desired behavior, it will be many times more difficult to successfully change behaviors in the organization, if at all.

Here are three traits I look for in leaders of successful transformational change:

  1. They realize and are open about the fact that they do not have all the answers. They are willing to engage with others on a peer-to-peer basis to learn more about the impact they are having on the transformation. They are willing to personally confront their own insecurities and act to ensure these don’t negatively impact the transformation.
  2. Leaders have the courage to face other leaders and their employees. They are willing to have difficult conversations with those who might require it. They are willing to reveal more about major challenges. They are more genuine in their approach to the transformation when interacting with others.
  3. Selfless leaders do what it takes to lead through the transformation. They eliminate selfishness from their lives. They give freely of their time and energy to drive things forward. And they do all of this with little thought about the cost to them personally.

Call to action: Set aside one hour to reflect on these traits. Determine how you measure up. Define steps or changes in your own behavior to implement greater effectiveness in your transformational leadership.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

Why you should define structure before you define culture

 

One of my executive clients asked me to help resolve a cultural issue that was hampering his ability to transform his organization. Upon examination, I discovered he had a significant problem with cross-functional dysfunction because people didn’t understand expectations across the organization.

I interviewed a few of his top leaders and facilitated a conversation about the work in their areas and the requirements they had of each other. In some cases, leaders had no idea what other leaders needed to be successful in their respective organizations.

We scheduled two more meetings where we included selected middle managers. Here we discussed in more detail the requirements from one another and how we would fulfill those. We also noted that this transformation would require employees to work together differently than was previously required. Employees would need to better cooperate and collaborate more frequently. We defined the required behavioral characteristics and the outcomes required from those behavioral changes.

We then devised a plan the middle-managers used to drive the implementation. Voila! Success.

Lesson learned? Sometimes we try to change behavior without being clear about the structural outcomes or structural implications. Structure and culture work together to make an organization more efficient and more successful.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve