And you already knew that!
In the wake of the pandemic and the protests, purpose is suddenly a superpower. This article in Fast Company magazine caught my eye. Let me amplify and clarify a few of the author’s statements.
The idea that “… companies that have purpose built into their bottom line are the most likely to remain standing,” is true. Current events have highlighted and, perhaps, hastened what is a long arc of CEO-run companies being out-of-sync with the times.
“Just think about how hard it is to know how to do the right thing when your organization isn’t designed to do the right thing.” Yes, I love this statement. Chapter 13 in Chief Leadership Officer, “The On-Purpose Statements (Deep Strategy),” makes this case — plus it shows you how to do it and the larger context of it on the CLO Integrity Map.
“And while everyone is paying more attention to purpose, we are seeing a very clear separation between the purposeful and the pretenders, between those that only offer lip service and those that serve their community well.” Amen! Because I’ve been pioneering purpose since the late 1980s, I’ve seen the spectrum of “the purposeful” and “the pretenders.” Purpose has become a hot buzzword so business leaders, authors, and speakers mindlessly pitch it for marketing and not for its meaning. That kind of behavior inspires me to work harder to get the On-Purpose® message into the lives of people and their organizations.
The author is writing about Amazon: “When the pandemic pumped the company full of demand, the already noticeable issues with its employee relations struggles became unavoidable. Why? Because it had to choose between pursuing maximum profits or standing on purpose and caring for its employees.” Ah, CLOs, this is so rich for us to look at our CEO colleagues and see why they’re so challenged.
First, they see people as “employees” and “human resources.” It’s a dispassionate view of people that objectifies in the name of profits and “doing business.”
Second, “pursuing maximum profit” is not a wealth creation strategy. It is a wealth destruction tactic used by short-term profiteers. In its wake lie the bodies of those folded, spindled, and mutilated at the altar of profit maximizer. CLOs know about the triple bottom line (page 98). It isn’t a choice between profit and people. It’s a decision to have the checks and balances of three bottom-line measures. Profit is the effect. Purpose is the cause. And people are the connector for the two.
Kudos to Heath Shackleford, the founder of Good.Must.Grow. Hopefully, he’ll realize soon that being “purpose-driven” is really no different from being profit-driven — you’re still being driven! People aren’t cattle to be driven. Rather they’re humans to be called to belong and contribute — to give high and noble expression to their purpose. People will answer this call that I simply call being on-purpose.