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Leading with Purpose: Strategies for Entrepreneurial Success

Leading with Purpose Strategies for Entrepreneurial Success Leaders instinctively understand the value of corporate purpose. They know that, when it is well articulated, a company’s purpose statement—or the best proxy for it, such as a mission or vision statement—serves as a north star. It is a reminder of what matters most and provides clarity to employees, managers, and leaders about how to focus amid the cacophony of daily, competing demands. Yet across industries and markets, many leaders struggle to communicate a meaningful purpose that builds employees’ conviction about why their work matters.

Such disconnects tend to be baked into the creation process. That’s because when they craft a purpose statement, leaders often sidestep critical questions: Does it address a clear customer need or problem to be solved? Is the organization uniquely qualified to deliver on the promise embedded in that statement? 5 ways to be authentic about setting the purpose and harness it's power:

1. Make creating your purpose a strategic exercise, not a communications exercise. Simply put, strategy starts with purpose. Leaders need to take responsibility for crystalizing their company’s purpose, doing so with the conviction that purpose has great power to motivate and clarify decision-making.

2. Focus on how you earn money, rather than how you spend it. Leaders need to do the hard work of unpacking how their organization creates impact. They can do this by making a meaningful connection between their obligations to customers and investors and the greater well-being of society—and to communicate that connection to their employees.

Leading with Purpose Strategies for Entrepreneurial Success 3. Identify your special power, and build your purpose around it. Leaders then need to articulate that reason for existence, invest in it, and galvanize their employees around it.

4. In multi-business-unit organizations, make sure the purpose goes beyond a single unit. Leaders need to start by ensuring purpose is incredibly clear at the business or market level for each of their business lines; they need to work with each unit leader to clearly articulate how their unit makes its money and why that matters.

5. Boards need to do more to hold leaders accountable on the topic of purpose. Discussions in the boardroom tend to focus on capital allocation, margin improvement, executive compensation, and, when cash is flush, compensating shareholders, either through dividends or stock buybacks. In contrast, deeper, more nuanced discussions about the value a company brings to its customers don’t tend to rank sufficiently high on the board agenda.

The discussion of purpose lies at the heart of fiduciary oversight.Given the magnitude of the challenges they face, leaders need to rethink their approach to purpose. Rather than relying on platitudes to move the needle, they need to be boldly honest about how their organization will shape its customers’ future—and how employees can make that future a reality.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 23rd February 2023.

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