Six Ways CEO’s Can Accelerate Purpose

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The words of the CEO have outsize impact on the team. If you’re a CEO, or in senior leadership, your words tell your people how they should feel about the business. I use the word “feel” very intentionally here. While the market analysts may want the numbers, your people need something more. The most effective CEOs use their time with their teams to infuse a sense of purpose and meaning into the organization. Here are six places CEOs and senior leaders can reinforce and accelerate your organization’s purpose:

Town halls. Nothing is more powerful than the CEO standing on stage telling a story about how your organization makes a difference to your customers. Instead of a deep dive on the earnings, provide a top line summary, then tell what we refer to as a Customer Impact Story: a short, specific story about how your solution improved life for a customer.

Steve Johnson, President and COO of Berkshire Grey, an AI and robotics firm, says, “It’s easy to say our product is XYZ, but the definition doesn’t tell the whole story. When you hear a story about achieving your purpose it closes the loop and makes everything much more understandable – and meaningful.” A Customer Impact Story gives your team the message: we’re more than a transactional organization. Our work matters.

Earnings calls. CEOs who frame their financial results around the organization’s purpose signals to investors: We’re a purpose-driven firm focused on customers.

When a CEO defines the Noble Purpose of the organization, and is clear about the impact the firm wants to have on customers, their conviction sends a statement to investors, and it creates a public record of the purpose.

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Executive team meetings. One CEO I know reads her firm’s purpose statement at the start of the monthly executive team meeting. When the purpose is short and reflects your highest aspirations for customers, it centers people.

This particular CEO’s executive team says, “It’s like the bell at school or the gong at church, it calls people into the space and reminds us why we’re here.” Leadership teams come into meetings with their minds on their own functional areas, repeating a customer-focused purpose increases alignment, and puts a customer lens on all the functions.
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Strategy and budget sessions. When the boss asks, “How will this choice impact our purpose?” you change the frame. New initiatives should further your purpose. When you budget with an eye towards achieving your purpose you make better strategic decisions. Consider the difference between asking, “How will this impact our budget” vs. “How will this impact our customers, and our larger purpose?” The first question is transactional. The second question is strategic and will help you create a more differentiated organization.

One-on-one updates. It’s often challenging to get non-customer facing teams aligned around the impact they have on customers. When the CEO says, “How is your team delivering on our purpose?” it can help non-customer facing teams connect the dots. Asking about your purpose in 1-1’s also helps leaders stay strategic, with their eyes on long-term goals.

Casual hallway conversations. It’s awkward to run into the CEO. People get nervous. Make it easy and fun. One of our CEO clients loves to say, “Another day of changing lives, got any good customer stories for me?” He’s always looking for stories about how their firm made a difference to a customer. And if his team doesn’t have a story, he is always ready to tell one. His team may roll their eyes in jest, but they sure know what’s important to him.

Words create worlds. These everyday moments in the cadence of normal business are how you as a leader build belief with your team, belief in your company and belief that your work has deeper meaning. If you want to create a tribe of true believers, bring your purpose into daily conversations. Your words matter, let your team know, you’re a purpose-driven leader worth following.

Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaearlemcleod/2020/02/24/six-ways-ceos-can-accelerate-purpose/#790abb2d20aa

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