The Power of Purpose

Yesterday I stepped into a workshop to take a company’s purpose statement and work with the finance and admin team to create a team purpose statement that provided a compelling reason for doing what they do within the business.

Some prompting questions yielded answers like this:

“The finance team are the gatekeepers”

“We enforce the policies and procedures”

“Everyone thinks we are blockers, negative and naysayers”

“We are not creatives”

What a depressing and negative view they had of themselves.   But then this question, “What would happen if you did not do what you do?”  Out of this streamed a river of risk, compliance, tax and financial issues that the business would not be addressing. 

And then the key idea fell out.  We protect this business.  In fact “We protect the integrity of the innovative people of this business by supporting accurate strategic decisions and minimising risk.”

Within in moments the team’s purpose shifted from a negative, needing to justify themselves to the rest of the business attitude to one of being warriors fighting to protect the integrity of the innovative leaders of the business.  There was a palpable shift for this team.  They were no longer enforcers of nit-picking policies but guardians of integrity.

How many times have we seen innovative and visionary leaders fall because crucial compliance details had not been attended to, leaving their integrity in tatters? 

This ordinary everyday finance and admin team reinvented themselves simply through creating a narrative about themselves and their purpose. 

And the follow on.  The afternoon session was with sales and marketing.  When told of the purpose statement the finance and admin team had landed on they immediately saw the boring, negative policies and procedures people in a completely different light…as allies.

This business is filled with innovative and creative people.  Through defining their purpose the finance and admin team are no longer the out of step non innovative and creative people but the supporters and protectors of them.