Tired business people.What is your team or department or company leadership team’s core “reason for being”?

If your leadership team is typical, the focus is on results and profits. Their only “reason for being” is to deliver expected performance.

There are very good reasons for that singular focus. In most companies, the only thing that is measured, monitored, and rewarded daily are results and profits. Leaders are recognized and valued (and paid) based upon their ability to deliver expected results.

Those leaders have never been asked to do anything different. Their role models – leaders they served under in the past – focused exclusively on results and profits.

It’s all they know.

However, there are undesirable logical consequences when leaders exclusively focus on results and profits. The biggest consequence is that team leaders and team members deliver those results in any way they can – including ways that serve themselves (and inhibit others’ performance), that bend rules, that are unethical, and worse. Those behaviors erode trust, respect, and dignity of your fellow employees. “I win, you lose” is the mantra.

We’ve all seen it.

The reality is that an “I win, you lose” philosophy actually limits team and department and company results! Performance is capped when team leaders and team members choose to not cooperate, share information, or enable others’ successes.

Now, there is nothing wrong with results and profits. What sucks is when the work environment is so competitive that people have to battle their peers to “win.” That boosts anxiety and stress and reduces well being and cooperation.

There is a better way. I can prove it.

When leadership teams craft a present day purpose that focuses on service to others – along with desired values and behaviors, strategies, and goals – performance goes up, by 35 percent. Engagement and service to up, by 40 percent – all within 18 months of refining their culture with an organizational constitution.

Those are impressive numbers – but getting leadership teams to evolve past their “old ways” is challenging.

A leadership team’s core purpose statement – their true, present day “reason for being” – answers three questions:

  • What does this team do?
  • For whom? Who are this team’s primary customers?
  • To what end? What is the desired outcome of these efforts beyond delivering results or making money?

Why is “to what end” important? Because most team leaders and team members do not enjoy any significant benefit if the organization makes more widgets or generates greater profits. Their take home pay doesn’t jump.

What humans crave is purpose and meaning. They want to know how their work makes their communities better, improves people’s lives, or even reduces environmental impact. When employees understand their beneficial impact on others, their engagement goes up. They serve others more effectively. Their commitment to the company goes up.

The “to what end” question is critically important. Most leadership teams I work with struggle with an answer to it. They are afraid if they don’t focus on results, those results will go away.

The exact opposite is true.

So what is an effective leadership team purpose statement? One of my client’s crafted a terrific, service oriented purpose statement for their leadership team:

“Drive results and service through engagement and respect.”

This statement honors the leadership team’s need to ensure team members deliver results and customer service while it clarifies what their leadership team must deliver first: employee engagement and respect.

Leaders, don’t focus exclusively on results. Your leadership team is responsible for creating a work environment based on trust, respect, and dignity, which then inspires team members to deliver great results and service.

Does your leadership team proactively create a safe, inspiring work environment? How does your leadership team foster trust, respect, and dignity of all team members? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: Good Comes First (2021) and The Culture Engine (2014).
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