Here at The Leadership Coaches, we regularly have conversations with organisations that want to understand how they can support their people in connecting more deeply to their organisational purpose.
This topic has rocketed to the top of the agenda, as organisations are facing another War on Talent, with 2022 already being referred to as the year of the Great Reset.
Individuals who are either seeking new employment or are already in employment are starting to look for more meaning in their work-life and to feel more deeply connected to what they do.
According to McKinsey Consulting:
“Nearly two-thirds of US-based employees said that COVID-19 has caused them to reflect on their purpose in life. And nearly half said that they are reconsidering the kind of work they do because of the pandemic. Millennials were three times more likely than others to say that they were reevaluating work.
Individuals who live their purpose at work are more productive than people who don’t. They are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay at the company. When employees feel that their purpose is aligned with the organisational purpose, the benefits expand to include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others.”
Until recently, it was thought that the most effective way to obtain this alignment was for the organisation to inspire their people to get that all-important connection through a strong and compelling organisational purpose or “why”.
The story of the President of the United States visiting NASA in the 1960s and asking a janitor what they did at the centre; to be told, “I’m not mopping floors; I’m helping to put a man on the moon”, is often cited as a great example of the organisation providing a connection to something bigger and more meaningful than the role an individual is carrying out.
It's a powerful story, but it is only half the story, as it infers that an individual’s motivation from purpose flows only one way – from the organisation to the individual.
In 2019, Carlos Rey from the Universität International de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain and Ivan Malbašić from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, produced a paper proposing a different approach; “The Harmonisation of Organisational and Personal Purpose.”
The authors state that there is another side of purpose - an equally important and impactful side - that has been much less explored by organisations in their quest to inspire their people, which is the ability every one of us has to inspire an organisation with our personal purpose.
“It is the perspective that argues purpose must also be created and moved ‘from the individual to the organisation.’ In this perspective, individuals derive a sense of meaning in their work from their personal purpose. And this plays a crucial role in the development of meaning because one’s own purpose is an enormous source of motivation. It endows any task with deeper meaning, while reinforcing the individual’s value system. When individuals approach their work from personal purpose, their aspirations are encouraged, and they become more energised in their current roles. Personal purpose empowers individuals with timeless strength during change. More than merely fulfilling a task or doing a job, employees feel they are “being themselves at work,” incorporating into the organisation their unique purpose in life.”
Imagine if you could inspire an organisation with your purpose, to supercharge engagement, connection, and motivation and then help other people do the same thing. It sounds great, but is it easy to do?
When asked about their purpose, a lot of people aren’t sure how to answer. Many will say that as they aren’t in a highly vocational role, they haven’t spent a lot of time considering what their purpose is, let alone answering the really big question, “how you can inspire an organisation with your purpose?”
Here’s a quick activity to help you start discovering your personal purpose and how you can inspire an organisation with your purpose.
Take a ten-minute break and reflect on these super seven questions:
I am at my best when...
I am at my worst when...
What I really love to do at work is...
What I really love to do in my personal time is...
My natural talents and gifts are...
I want to be a person who...
My most important future contribution to others is...
Now reflect on what you have discovered about yourself through answering these questions.
Share what you have discovered about yourself with others, and look out for the opportunities at work to use your unique talents and gifts.
People everywhere are revaluating their lives and work and now expect their work to be a significant source of purpose in their lives. Organisations will need to help meet this need or be prepared to lose talent to companies that will.
Here at The Leadership Coaches, we have the knowledge, experience and expertise to support organisations in helping their people to discover their purpose, to feel personally inspired and bring their true and authentic selves to work to develop a deeper and more meaningful connection to what they do.
By leadership coach Heather Rayfield.