How to Lead with Purpose and Radically Transform Your Life and Work

Research steadily finds that people who live, lead, and work with purpose live up to 7 years longer, are 42% more likely to experience contentment in life and at work, and are four times more likely to be engaged and productive in their jobs (Gallup, 2013; National Institutes of Health ,1998; New York University, 2015).

Your purpose is your ultimate competitive advantage.

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And organizations and leaders that prioritize, instill, and communicate their purpose regularly demonstrate more profitability and outperform their markets by 6:1 (Deloitte, 2014). And perhaps more importantly, purposeful people and organizations can change the world.

But what is purpose and how do we lead and build organizations around purpose for lasting success?

Purpose Beyond Profit
Embracing a purpose beyond profit may be the essential strategy of the modern organization. Purpose has become the latest business buzzword. So it is important to be clear on its enduring and powerful definition. Quite simply, purpose is “…the reason for which something exists.” Your company’s purpose is not a mission statement, a tactic, or a goal. It is quite literally a company’s guiding reason for existence on the planet. The company’s job is to justify that reason every day.

A reason for existence doesn’t fade with time or change with market conditions.

Purpose taps into people’s psychological desire to make the world better and to do good. Purpose permeates every behavior and thought in a company. And a good purpose is a reason worth committing to that inspires service to the greater good.

A company’s purpose has to be more important than the company itself. And when companies embrace a guiding purpose beyond their financial returns, success follows.


Purpose Drives People
From a social science perspective, the effect of purpose on both employees and customers is not surprising. When people see their work as serving the greater good they are more likely to be engaged, committed, and productive.

A sense of purpose has also been found to be one of the most powerful psychological motivators for both employees and customers.

Ultimately, people want to believe in something that’s bigger than themselves. People and organizations who believe in and prove their reason for existence inspire more loyal people to join their movements and invest in their products. Imperative, one of the leading consulting firms studying the role of purpose has found that a sense of purpose is ranked as one of the most significant factors in job satisfaction and nearly quadruples the likelihood of being engaged at work. And by 2025 nearly 70% of consumers and employees will identify with the Millennial generation. A recent survey by Deloitte found that an overwhelming 75% of Millennials indicated that they were more likely to do business with or work for a company that exists to better society.


And customers want to be a part of a purpose too. People are psychologically drawn to products and services that align with their beliefs about the way the world should and can be.

Simon Sinek, in his 2009 viral Ted Talk implored, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

He is proving to be right.

How to Design a Purposeful Organization:


1. Instill a belief that the work matters.
The first way to design a purposeful organization is to focus on the problem you solve and not on the solutions you offer. Profit is a solution. Your product and service is a solution. What human problems do these solutions exist to solve? Putting human stories at the forefront of your psychologically commits people to your organization.

2. Develop a clear, compelling purpose statement.
Researchers have found that simply having a purpose doesn’t correlate to greater financial success. However, those organizations that have a clear, compelling, and people-centered purpose experience market success 6:1 that of their competitors. Develop a statement of why the company exists and detach it from what you do and how you do it.

Your purpose is your ultimate competitive advantage.

3. Deliver your purpose: Align practices and strategies.
Finally, can every person who interacts with every level of your organization know and feel why your company exists? Making sure that you “prove” your purpose through all of your processes is critical to being a purposeful organization.

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