Lead with Purpose

Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself

 Lead with Purpose

Author: John Baldoni
Pub Date: November 2011
Print Edition: $18.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436608
Page Count: 224
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814417393

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Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within

yourself, in your way of thinking.


When organizations succeed, it is because they know what they

do and why they do it. We say they have ‘‘purpose.’’

Let me share a story. Not long ago I walked into an Apple store to

inquire when the company might be introducing an external keyboard

for the iPhone. The young man who handled my query was polite,

but direct, ‘‘We are committed to the onscreen keyboard.’’ Note the

word ‘‘we.’’ How many times have you heard a clerk in a store refer

to the business as ‘‘we,’’ in particular to a customer who wants something

the store does not carry? While some might have thought the

young man arrogant, I did not. I considered him committed. His demeanor

demonstrated that he believed in Apple, its product line, and

its organizational purpose. This young man was acting on purpose,

for purpose, and with purpose.

When I share this story with senior executives, I ask them: What

would you give to have an entire company full of employees like the

young man who assisted me? They smile wistfully, knowing that such

commitment is rare. But in reality, it is only rare because companies

do not take enough time to nurture such purposeful attitudes and

results in the workplace.

It is up to leaders to make certain that organizational purpose is

understood and acted upon. Based upon research and interviews with

business executives in multiple sectors, I have concluded that there

are seven key people-smart things that organizations must do to succeed

in the new future.

1. Make purpose a central focus. Organizations that succeed are

those that know where they are headed and why. It is up to leaders to

use that sense of purpose to shape the destiny of their organizations

and leverage the talents of the people in them to achieve intended


2. Instill purpose in others. While it may be a cliche´ to say that

‘‘people matter,’’ reality dictates that they do indeed matter. It is important

to teach purpose to your people so that they have a sense of

what the organization does and the role they play in it.

3. Make employees comfortable with ambiguity. The world as

we knew it at the beginning of the century is over and it is never

coming back. With this new reality comes a sense of unease. We had

grown accustomed to growth as a universal right. No longer will that

be true. What will be true however is that purpose can provide clarity

in unsettled times. Having strong purpose can provide the direction

that employees need to navigate through ambiguity.

4. Turn good intentions into great results. The world is tough

and people matter, but you still have to get the work done. Purpose

can be an enabling factor that provides the link people need to connect

what they do to what the organization needs them to do. When

that happens, employees can turn ideas into practical applications that

satisfy customer needs.

5. Make it safe to fail (as well as prevail). Purpose is the engine

of innovation. While innovation relies upon creativity for spark, it is

purpose that turns ideas into practical concepts. No company will

succeed all of the time, but it needs to allow its work force to think

and act creatively (and occasionally fail) as a means of preparing the

organization to meet new and emerging challenges.

6. Develop the next generation. Few senior executives will be in

their current jobs in five or ten years from now. They may be heading

other organizations or they may have retired. Savvy organizations are

purposeful about how they develop future leaders. They integrate

leadership development into how they run their operations.

7. Prepare yourself. Purposeful organizations need leaders who

know themselves first; that is, they have an inner compass that points

them in the right direction. Such leaders catalyze their own purpose

to help their organizations succeed.

This is not by any means an exclusive list of factors affecting people-

smart development. In fact, it is only a starting point. The final

chapter of this book will explore how leaders can begin to think about,

identify, and ultimately learn to cope or take advantage of the factors

shaping their own businesses with regard to their own people development.

Purpose can be a driving force for an organization to achieve its

intended results. Purpose forms the backbone of what an organization

exists to do; upon which you can build vision and mission. A central

challenge for leaders is to bring people together for common cause.

That’s purpose. Purpose is the why behind everything within an organization.

This book will show how leaders can unlock the purpose of their

organizations and put it to good use for employees to apply to their

own jobs. The net effect is to help individuals, teams, and organizations

to optimize performance by understanding how to use purpose

for good intention.

Leveraging Lessons to Meet Future Challenges

Leaders use purpose to build strong organizations. Importantly, leaders

also challenge themselves as well as their employees to lead with,

for, and on purpose. That becomes possible because purposeful people

have an inner strength that we sometimes overlook: an ability to

adapt. Yes, change can be hard, even painful, but executives are among

the most capable and resourceful people on the planet. The ideas developed

in this book will provide leaders with an approach and a

methodology to leverage purpose that is robust, vibrant, and most of

all, flexible and resilient.

How well leaders use purpose to create the vision, mold the mission,

and shape the values will serve as a testament to their ability to

bring people together for common cause. All of us cherish the opportunity

to participate in endeavors that engage our intellect, capture

our hearts, and enrich our spirits. Purpose can be the great enabler

that links leaders and followers together in order to make a positive

difference in their organizations.

It is important for business and public sector leaders to understand

their responsibility to instill purpose in the workplace in order

to harness the talents of their people. Not only will they succeed in

the present but they will also prevail for generations to come.

Purpose matters.

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