By Fiona Logan
We’re continuing to experience incredible disruption – from the Covid-19 legacy to the climate crisis, and from the war in Ukraine, to political unrest, the transitionary nature of the global workforce and the cost-of-living crisis. Leading a global organisation through these challenges can feel a bit like sailing across a vast and unforgiving ocean. One minute you’re racing along and the next, your thrown wildly off course. It can be hard to hold onto your organisational purpose in the eye of the storm, but that is when it is most important.
Purpose is your reason for being. It’s what keeps you on course and not headed for the rocks. When you’re presented with a myriad of different options, purpose is the beacon that guides you and your people towards your destination point.
As a leader in this new world of work – with all the societal, economic, political, technological, and environmental disruption – it’s essential to know your organisation’s purpose and keep heading towards it. At Insights, our purpose is, “to create a world where people truly understand themselves and others and are inspired to make a positive difference in everything they do.”
Six months ago at Insights we began a unique journey into the investigation of our personal and organisation’s purpose, drawing on the collective wisdom of the entire global community. At the heart of this is the belief that purpose does not just belong to senior leaders. Every colleague should know your organisational purpose, identify with it – and own it in their own unique way.
This is because clear organisational purpose guides:
Strategy. A clear organisational purpose is an enabler of good strategy. If people aren’t connected with strategy at a human level, they’re less like to create, mobilise and commit. When you lead with purpose, you can engage people at their core, make a real difference, and pull your community ever closer. The research speaks for itself – purpose-driven organisations out-perform the stock market by 120% and increase employees’ productivity by 225%. As a leader this means you can help your people develop solid executional plans in service of your strategy and it makes it more likely you will achieve desired business outcomes.
Change. The more change, the more important your purpose. When you’re presented with a myriad of different options, or when your people are struggling to adjust to new ways of working, purpose will act as a lighthouse to help you make good choices and remind your people of the destination point. Without a shared organisational purpose there can be a heavy price to pay – organisations can quickly lose direction, their people, their customers, their market position and their revenue along the way.
Customers. Research shows that purpose-driven organisations gain long-term loyalty from customers, with 79% of customers saying they’re loyal to purpose-driven brands. At Insights, our purpose draws customers towards us and creates a deep and lasting connection. From this foundation, we’ve built stronger relationships with our customers, understanding their needs, innovating and evolving our products. Through tough times customers have remained loyal and we’re now stronger than ever before.
Colleagues. The ‘great resignation’ is impacting on retention rates in every industry around the globe. At times like these, purpose will draw people to your organisation and keep them with you. Recent research shows that young people place particular importance on purpose, with 42% prioritising purpose over pay. If you don’t fully engage people with your organisational purpose, they’ll never truly become part of it and the advocates you need them to be in order to execute your strategy.
Community-building. Community has always been the heart of our purpose, vision and strategy and will continue to guide us in the future. When a company has a strong purpose, people are attracted to it; and when there’s a values alignment, people tend to stick with you, through thick and thin. That is when the magic of community happens. It doesn’t excite me to operate on my own, but when a group of brilliant people come together, aligned around a common goal, the possibilities are endless.
Purpose can unite a community and guide your organisation through the toughest times. At Insights, we are currently on an exciting journey of exploration around organisational purpose; a journey we hope will ground us, move us forward with passion and focus, and enable growth rooted in something larger and more meaningful than simply the work we do.
About the Author
Fiona Logan is Chief Executive of Insights. Fiona came to Insights in 2015 as VP Europe, and soon took on the role of Chief Operating Officer. She joined from her post as CEO of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park following an international corporate career with IBM and Unilever. Fiona has attended Henley, Harvard and Macquarie Business Schools and is a previous winner of the UK Public Servant of the Year from the Women in Public Life awards. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion and an advocate for sustainability and corporate social responsibility.