A clearly defined and stated purpose compels customers — along with present and potential employees — to join you in building a business that is the best it can be (and better than your competitors). If your purpose is unclear, or fails to connect with stakeholders, your business will suffer.
Purpose is the reason we get up and go to work. That purpose can be as fundamental as earning a paycheck. But for a business to truly excel — to become elite — having a simply understood purpose that customers and employees respect and support is critical.
It pays off. A recent study from Korn Ferry showed that companies with teams focused on their organization’s purpose had annual growth rates nearly three times the annual rate for their entire industry.
An elite purpose draws and motivates others to join your cause. In his groundbreaking 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation Abraham Maslow detailed how motivation works. At a minimum we are all driven by a need to address basic survival needs. Addressing the need for food, water, and shelter may be enough to get someone to show up for work. To be elite, your purpose must connect with higher levels needs. Maslow identified these higher needs as:
- Safety — enhancing health and security
- Belonging — active and amicable relationship with others
- Self-esteem — garnering respect and appreciation for your efforts
- Self-actualization — assurance you’re making a valuable difference in your life, community or the world
As is so often the case, determining how effectively your business purpose motivates can be determined by answering some simply-stated questions. Among them:
- How will the business allow me to meet my needs and those of my family?
- What needs of employees will the business help them provide for?
- Are we addressing higher level needs of customers and other stakeholders?
- Is the business making a positive and meaningful impact on the world?
If you’re uncertain of the answers to these questions, I invite you to discuss them with me, and determine how clearly defining a purpose for your business can take it to the elite level.
Thanks for your consideration.