Do you have a noble purpose – a formalized statement of your true calling in life and at work?
I don’t think there is a more important question to ask ourselves at the start of a new year.
I recently connected with sales leadership expert Lisa Earle McLeod. Lisa’s terrific book, Selling with Noble Purpose, describes how clarifying your noble purpose differentiates you from others . . . and inspires you to succeed while honoring your purpose and values every day.
Lisa’s primary audience for her book is sales leaders and sales people, but her research and discoveries can boost our outlook and our contributions, no matter what our role each day.
The Impact of Purpose
Ask employees in your organization what your company’s purpose is. It’s likely you’ll receive odd looks because that’s a question that is rarely asked in our work environments. The answers you get may not inspire you. You will likely hear things like: “The company exists to make money” or “We build cars (or sell insurance or print catalogs).”
It is no wonder that many work environments today suffer from malaise with staff “going through the motions.” Their work isn’t linked to anything purposeful or meaningful – beyond making money, which is a short-term motivator at best for employees.
In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink analyzes four decades of human motivation science. Pink explains, “Humans, by their nature, seek purpose – a cause greater and more enduring than themselves.”
Creating a noble purpose leverages that natural human need and motivation. It creates higher-level thinking than a that which happens with a worldview of “I’m a cog in a wheel, here.”
Here’s an example of a powerful noble purpose. One of Lisa’s clients is a technology leader in the drying of compressed air systems for locomotives and rail transit vehicles. Their mission statement was “We provide reliable transportation solutions.” It’s a truthful statement but a boring one. It didn’t speak to the impact they have on customers.
Discussion with company leadership allowed them to come to a more noble purpose statement: “We help make transportation safer, faster, and more reliable.” The difference is significant – it focuses on the impact their products have on their customers.
Many companies have a tough time keeping their noble purpose statement focused and simple. It’s not about world peace – it’s about clarity of how your company’s products and services impact customers.
Another of Lisa’s clients is a county court system. During a leadership program with 60 attendees from across the organization, Lisa asked teams to post how they make a difference to the court’s customers. Once teams reported out their insights, one attorney said, “You know what we do? We unclog the wheels of justice.”
This statement spoke to the aspirations of everyone in the room – and everyone in the court system. Leaders and employees there are inspired by this crisp, clear statement of what they do best every day.
Aligning to one’s stated noble purpose is where the real work happens. Lisa’s book provides tactical guidance for helping clarify one’s noble purpose and then align interactions and activities to it daily.
Lisa’s research shows that purpose-driven leaders and players perform better, WOW customers more consistently, and live more meaningful lives.
My noble purpose is to help senior leaders intentionally manage their most important asset: their corporate culture. What’s yours?
Join in the conversation about this post/podcast in the comments section below. What is your noble purpose, your inspiring “reason for being”?
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