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What Is Your Organization’s Higher Purpose?


Rear view of businessman with suitcase and diagrams on virtual panel

by Kelly Vandever


“What’s your company’s higher purpose?  And I don’t mean, an answer like ‘increase shareholder value.’  I mean, what does your organization do that contributes to your customers and/or the world.”

I started asking that of participants in my management classes a few months ago after being inspired by the work of Melissa Gordon.

The answers I’ve received have been fascinating.

I remember asking that question myself when I was a manager for a wireless telecom provider.  We were testing software.  So what.

Then I thought of all the messages people receive over the phone.

It’s your Dad…he’s sick.

 It’s a boy!

 Sorry, I’m running late but I’ll be there soon.

As I thought of the ways that we use our phones to connect with the people we love, the people we work with, with a new acquaintance, it became clearer that we were doing more than carrying out our jobs.  We were doing something that made it possible for people to have these important conversations.

That’s what I talked to my people about.  We weren’t just testing software.  We were enabling communications.


Brookdale Senior Living Answers the Question

I recently saw this commercial from Brookdale Senior Living.



Did you hear what he said?  He’s not just someone who prepares food.  His work matters… maybe more than he realized.


Set the Vision

As a leader, your job is to set the direction or vision for your organization.  Are you setting the vision big enough?  How does your organization make a difference to your customers and to the world?  Have you shared that with your staff?  People want to be part of something that matters, something bigger than themselves.  Set the vision, let them know how they fit in and reinforce that vision through your actions and your words — consistently and regularly.


Ask Your Employees

Ask your staff what they believe your organization’s higher purpose is.  Hopefully you find that your message is getting through.  Or maybe, you’ll discover that your employees are seeing your vision even more fully realized than you’ve imagined.


Worth the Journey

Every job has with it the good times and the bad.  But when your staff understands the bigger picture of how they contribute to the higher purpose of the organization, then they have more reason to engage and stick to through all the times.  Set the vision.  Repeat the vision.  Personalize the vision.  It’s what makes the journey worth it!