What’s the interplay between Purpose and purposeful?
In discussion with one of our contacts who is leading work on building a purpose driven organisation, we explored the dimensions of ‘leading from a shared purpose’ and ‘being purposeful’ as part of the strategies and approaches.
The challenges of creating a fully aligned organisation that really works from a place of shared purpose are manifold. The question of language and meaning is one aspect – as we explore the essence of purpose we often get into some very personal space around values and passion for a theme, topic or area of focus. How do we convey this successfully ensuring that we all mean the same thing at the end of the day and in what way does that matter?
And then there are the levels of involvement – if we want the whole organisation to feel a true sense of shared purpose do we involve everyone in its development? Plus the level at which the purpose is defined – in other words is it anchored solely about us as a business/organisation and our success, or does it convey our contribution to the greater good for example?
In taking on the challenge of creating a truly shared purpose however we are choosing to move our organisation into the space of the new era of work. In the future, all organisations will be founded on the premise of a shared purpose in my view.
So what of purposeful? Being purposeful is potentially a very different animal to living from a shared purpose. For sure the latter does require us to be purposeful. But it is also possible to be purposeful and not have a clear shared purpose. Being purposeful for me means people who are bringing in a more mindful, intentional focus to their work – decision making, analysis, initiating work streams. They are prepared to ask themselves, at a deep level, what is my intention here? What am I seeking to achieve and am I coming from the right place to be able to achieve it?
Being purposeful, could be described as the inner toolkit that helps us to create outcomes based on a much better understanding of what we are bringing to the mix – our emotions, our biases, our strengths and shortcomings. Arguably it’s a necessary companion if not predecessor to living a shared purpose. However it’s important not to think that because we are being purposeful that we have cracked the shared purpose challenge…that still requires an additional level of coalition, strategy and delivery.