Trends change, and profits come and go, but the hallmark of success is the legacy and impact a business leaves behind.
That is the general consensus among consumers, who are increasingly drawn to businesses that are driven by purpose.
In a consumer survey by Bain & Company, more than 70 percent of consumers have said they are willing to pay a reasonable premium of 10 percent to 25 percent for more sustainable products.
Millennials, in particular, are driving interest in sustainable-led brands, said Bain in its survey.
“Within the next five years, millennials, who already over-index on purchasing sustainable goods, are set to have the highest purchasing power of any consumer group. Millennials constitute 50 percent of the market for purpose-led brands, yet represent only a little more than 30 percent of the market for incumbent brands,” noted the survey.
This trend makes sense, as consumers affiliate with brands that represent what they believe, says Carla Henry, founder and managing partner of The Purpose Collective.
“And we are definitely trending upwards in that we all want to buy in socially responsible, ethical, purposeful companies,” she continues.
Employees also want to follow leaders who are similar to them on similar values and beliefs, she adds.
Henry spearheaded Soulful and Purposeful Leadership, held as part of the Greater Club’s Leadership Development Day. Held on 23 February, Leadership Development Day was a full-day of activities designed to elevate one’s leadership capabilities to greater heights.
The Purpose Collective helps leaders and organisations become more purpose-led and values-based to create long-term positive transformation.
Organisations don’t transform – people do
While the financial benefits of adopting a purpose-led business model speak for themselves, purpose is really more than just a business case. Business leaders should spend some time reflecting on what their purpose is, and make the effort to live and work by their purpose as much as they can.
Henry opines that leaders are the true instigators of purpose. “When leaders transform, the organisation transforms. Leaders signal the way for others,” she says.
That said, there are a number of points leaders should ask themselves before reiterating their purpose throughout the organisation, such as:
- Do you have a purposeful vision? Is it clear, compelling, and making a meaningful difference?
- What are your values and beliefs?
- Does your behaviour correspond to your purpose, vision and values?
- Are we making an impact on all our stakeholders?
“One of my beliefs is that your purpose can change the world – you can aspire to do great things. But none of that matters if you don’t change your world first,” she says.
“Think about the microcosm you live in – your family, your team and your work, and think about what impact you cam make there,” she continues.
As role models, business leaders have a personal responsibility to live by their beliefs and values. “We all get frustrated when we look up to the CEO and other leaders, and they say one thing and do another,” says Henry.
By personifying their purpose through their behaviours, this in turn, seeps into workplace culture and helps foster a positive and safe workspace.
But in order to discover and fulfil their purpose, leaders need to let go of their fears and step out of their comfort zones, in order to achieve personal growth, says Henry. Fears of inadequacy and imposter syndrome keep us trapped, she adds.
The “Why” is more important than the “What” and the “How”
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle theory does a great job of distinguishing purpose in an easy-to-relate manner.
Sinek noticed that some leaders are more adept than others in inspiring people. In short, the “why” they do what they do is the purpose behind their work, and the reason they get out of bed every morning to do what they do.
“The inspired leaders and the inspired organisations – regardless of their size, regardless of their industry- all think, act and communicate from the inside out,” added Sinek.
The Golden Circle breaks down leadership into the “what” and the “how”, as well as the “why”.
“Every single person, every single organisation on the planet knows WHAT they do, 100 percent. Some know HOW they do it, whether you call it your differentiated value proposition or your proprietary process or your USP,” says Sinek in his famed TED Talk.
“But very, very few people or organisations know WHY they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organisation exist?”
Henry is a proponent of the Golden Circle, applying it to her teachings as a coach.
The “Why” involves getting to know one self, expressing yourself authentically, standing strong in your beliefs and attracting those who share your beliefs, she explains.
The Purpose Collective’s Purpose and Well-being Assessment
For something as abstract as purpose, how and where does one start their discovery?
Henry introduced a quick questionnaire during the workshop, where participants were probed on what fuels them, where their fears may be and what needs working on. “The assessment informs your sense of purpose and what you need to focus on in life and work,” she says.
The assessment uncovers six areas where their sense of purpose may lie, namely:
- Autonomy – the self-determination and independence and to what extent you feel you can resist social pressures to think and act in particular ways.
- Environmental Mastery – a sense of mastery and competence in your environment, be that home or work. Having a sense of the ability to control a complex array of external activities and leverage opportunities that your life presents you with.
- Self- assessment – holding positive attitudes toward yourself and your ability to acknowledge and accept the multiple aspects of yourself. This includes good and bad qualities and having balanced or positive feelings about your past experiences.
- Personal Growth – a feeling of continued development and the sense that you are growing and expanding. It’s about being open to new experiences and realising your potential.
- Positive relations with others – the extent to which you feel you have positive, warm, satisfying, trusting relationships with others. It’s also about your own concern for the welfare of others and your capacity for strong empathy, affection, and intimacy.
- Purpose in Life – your sense of purpose and meaning. The possession of goals and a sense of direction. It’s about the feeling that there is meaning in and to your present and past life.
The maximum score for each area is 54, and participants who score lower than 54 have some work to do in improving these areas.
For instance, if you score lower in environmental mastery, it means you may not be in control of your immediate environment, and it could signify the need to practice boundaries, or to let go of certain attachments.
Living and breathing your purpose
The workshop ended with reminders on how we can practice applying our purpose, and to radiate our purpose into our surroundings and relationships.
Henry concluded with some pointers on how we can let our purpose lead the way:
- Your purpose is in your story – invest the time in understanding how your personal story can make a difference to others.
- Your purpose can change the world, but it needs to change your world first – start with yourself and making a difference at home or work
- Dare to be MORE you – your purpose and values are your unique essence and a calling to be more yourself.
- Be the lighthouse – stand strong in attracting others to your cause, or be a good follower of the things that you believe in
- Follow the whispers, callings and longings – allow purpose and values to be your north star, to guide you in making key choices and decisions
- Build your Golden Circle of your why, how and what – know you can make a living and make a difference, at the same time.