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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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Dedicated to your profitable transformation,