“Lack of business confidence has been a hindrance to economic recovery,” according to Deloitte chairman Punit Renjen. This is why the 3rd annual Deloitte Core Beliefs & Culture survey examined key drivers of employee and stakeholder confidence to help leaders create more of it. The survey revealed that the single greatest driver of organizational confidence is a strong sense of purpose. These organizations saw 50 percent more employee confidence and engagement than those without a strong purpose, and nearly 25 percent more stakeholder confidence.
So, what defines purpose and gives leaders access to the confidence they need to thrive? According to the survey, those organizations without a strong sense of Higher Purpose focus on the bottom line. Those with a strong sense of purpose make a commitment to deliver top quality products and services. This means that an organization’s Higher Purpose has to do with the impact it has on people, not profits.
Does Your Vision Inspire Confidence?
I often say that as a leader, it’s not your intention that matters. It’s your impact. Despite all the advantages of having a Higher Purpose, there is one more step leaders must take so that employees engage with it.
In the course of their study, Deloitte found that 20 percent of all respondents believed their leadership failed to set an example for the rest of the organization by acting in alignment with its Higher Purpose—even when that purpose was clearly defined. This means you must create a culture that helps people act in alignment with your Higher Purpose. Only then will you inspire the people in your organization to live it, too. Having a Higher Purpose will do nothing if it’s not reflected in what you do and how you do it.
Culture Reflects Vision: What Do You See?
Over the last 25 years, I have had the privilege to work with and study hundreds of organizations that consistently outperform their competition, regardless of the economic conditions. These outstanding organizations start with building a strong and healthy culture. They make sure their people don’t just understand the organization’s Higher Purpose. They also know how to deliver on it and actively contribute toward it. They learn about how the organization works, why they do what they do, and how their work is meaningful to the goals and aspirations of the organization at large.
If you imagine your organization as the human body, culture is its heart and soul. It’s what gets the blood pumping and the heart racing. Every organization has a culture. The question is whether it’s healthy or not. A healthy culture aligns your people and engages them to act in service of your Higher Purpose, grows your brand strength, and improves financial performance. On the other hand, a weak or dysfunctional culture functions much like an unhealthy heart: sluggish processes, weak performance, and many complications.
Building a Healthy Culture
It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia required to complete a task. As a leader, you must connect the work your team does with the impact they have. Today, answer the question: what do we actually do for people? Then, build a culture that supports that purpose, to help your people bring it to life.
Culture is built and reinforced through four primary tools of communication and delivery: vision, mission, values and market position. Your strategies derive from these elements, which work together to communicate and execute your Higher Purpose. When each element is strong, it will allow you to leverage the potential of your people to align with that purpose and deliver results.
1. Inspiring Vision: An organization’s vision is unchanging. It defines your Higher Purpose: what you stand for and why you exist. Leaders use vision to align people with the organization’s strategies. It provides guidance about what core to preserve and how to stimulate progress toward the right future as things change. It answers the question “Why do we exist?”
2. Compelling Mission: A mission defines a team’s primary purpose. It clarifies what business you are in and what key focus areas and objectives you are committed to. It communicates the essence of your businesses objectives and philosophies to customers, employees, and the marketplace. It answers the question, “What do we do here?”
3. Clear Values: Values dictate the way things get done. They reflect what your culture finds is of utmost importance. They tell everyone in the organization how to behave and what to respect. They are the principles that guide your team’s actions. They answer the question, “How do we act around here?”
4. Powerful Position: Your market position captures the essence of your unique value proposition and establishes your message. Effective positioning creates a synergy within an organization and clearly defines who you are and what your customer can count on. It answers the question, “What is our brand promise?”
Spend time now defining the components of your culture. Do they align with and support your Higher Purpose? If not, it’s time to step back and assess the health of your organization. Get your culture on track today and your business will stay healthy long into the future.
Want more tips on designing a culture that inspires confidence in both employees and customers? Check out Aspire’s blog series, Cultivating a Culture That Counts, for an in depth look at each of the components of a healthy, sustainable culture, beginning with Vision.