These organisations know their Why and Higher Purpose.
More specifically, their Higher Purpose identifies the unique contribution an organisation makes in the world, that no one else provides, that would be missed if the organisation didn’t exist – AND the impact this has on other peoples’ lives – their customers, suppliers, staff and supporters. When you can answer these questions you know you’ve got your Company’s Higher Purpose.
These four foundational attributes explain how a Why-Based Organisation stands out over an ordinary organisation. The way to unleash performance in these is by connecting everyone passionately, viscerally, and emotionally to their Higher Purpose, and leading from that place. This will require leaders at all levels of the organisation to take on new ways of leading – themselves and others to develop the necessary new skills. It will also necessitate the review and change of key processes, as well as new ways of working.
There are four foundational attributes of a Why-Based Organisation:
1. Start With Why
Why-Based Organisations are clear and grounded in their Higher Purpose (Why), this is a source of inspiration for clients, employees, and all stakeholders. The greatest organisations and companies that endure over the long-term have a Higher Purpose that goes beyond short-term production or economic goals.
2. Lead from the Heart
The one thing that makes a leader is having a follower. They admire leaders who care for them, not only as employees, but as people. As Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, says in his book, “Everybody Matters,” ‘Business can change the world if it takes responsibility for the lives entrusted to it.’
3. Engage Everyone
High engagement companies are more productive, profitable and safe. They are the best places to work. Rather than relying on coercion to gain control over their people, Why-Based Organisations create a healthy environment where trust, integrity and empowerment are all preached and practiced.
4. Develop Constantly the Organisation
With purpose, these organisations constantly grow, develop, shift and adapt to changing conditions in the marketplace. By focusing on people as the solution, the best companies unleash strengths and thus are able to overcome the most challenging circumstances.
Now, if our aim is to create such an organisation, what are the implications on how we organise ourselves? An even better question is how do we determine what needs to change?
Once we have our Higher Purpose, which is communicated clearly and effectively so that everyone is connected with it in a powerful and personal way, then it acts as a North Star for everything that occurs in and around that business. It provides a guide for decision making, as well as what policies and procedures should be in place. It is easy to look at all the organisation’s strategy, values, plans and their ways of working plus what is does, their products and services it offers to the outside world.
We call this type of enquiry a Higher Purpose Integrity Audit, to check that everything that is being done inside the organisation is in integrity with their Higher Purpose of the organisation. From our experience, we find that somethings need to be stopped, others reshaped, some accelerated, some new things started – and with the guidance from the Higher Purpose, these decisions become blatantly clear…
This is illustrated in this short article The Goosebumps Test
But here’s the real win when you do this for your team, department, or organisation: You get to manage less and lead more. So it’s more fun! You don’t need to check up on people so much, as they are more clear about what’s really important and in which direction we’re all heading. What’s more, we find that decision making can be passed lower in the organisation – lower and closer to the action.
When we look at how we employ people at the moment, there is a lot of management, rules and policies. These are not sourced from enabling people to be the best they can be i.e. leading, but to ensure we all comply and follow rules i.e. to manage. Imagine what it would be like if we all knew the cause we were working towards; if we only invited people to join us, working only with people who believed what we do and we designed our rules and policies to unleash everyone to do their life’s work. What would that make possible?
When people feel safe, they bring their full genuine selves to work and thrive, and when they thrive, their organisation thrives. We call organisations that thrive Why-Based Organisations, and these organisations have four key attributes, over and above ordinary organisations.
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