Often I find myself talking with corporate leaders who are passionate about what they do each day, and what their organisation does.
The conversation always seems to come back to the same point – why aren’t other people as excited about what they do as they are? They are referring to their own employees and external stakeholders like media and customers.
The simple truth is that people don’t care as much about what you do, as why you do it – and most organisations are not very good telling people about the why.
I can’t take credit for this insight. Many other people have talked about this – check out Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk. Great leaders inspire people by talking about why they do things; they can articulate a simple, single-minded purpose or belief that people can buy in to.
In organisations, this can be a powerful concept. Aligning under one clear, unifying purpose can engage a team, inspire performance, bring a strategy to action and strengthen your brand.
When I ask people why they do what they do and the purpose of their organisation, their natural inclination is to retreat to a safe ‘motherhood’ statement about their vision or mission. It’s usually printed in the front of the Annual Report or framed behind the reception desk.
But by probing further I have unearthed some powerful and inspiring stories that speak to the core purpose of organisations and why their leaders do what they do.
One financial services organisation knew they were all about creating value for business owners – but none of their corporate material even suggested that. A management team of a hygiene and personal care business realised their purpose was to make it easier for people to enjoy health and wellbeing. A grains company discovered that the real purpose behind what they did was to make Australian grain growers and their communities more prosperous.
Discovering and articulating the core purpose at the heart of an organisation provides a powerful tool to drive an organisation, and how it represents itself, forward.
So next time, before you kick off the sales conference, or address the Annual General Meeting, or deliver a welcoming speech to new graduate recruits; stop and ask yourself – why did I get out of bed this morning?