Our Senior Strategist, Jenny Browne, discusses the common trap leadership is falling into by thinking purpose is just marketing, and how by putting purpose at the heart of their leadership they can drive the many benefits of being a truly purpose-led business.
Over the last few years there's been a meaningful movement towards businesses becoming purpose-led, and turning their attention to areas other than just the bottom line. But there's a stumbling block – are CEOs really putting purpose at the heart of their businesses?
Brand purpose authenticity isn't simply about defining who you are and why you do what you do – it's about showing it too. Genuinely making it a central part of your business strategy, operations, decisions, as well as your brand and culture.
Purpose is more than marketing
To actually become purpose-led and reap all the many benefits that are now widely known, business leaders can’t fall into the trap of thinking purpose is just 'something for marketing to deal with'. To leverage its power and sew it into the very fabric of the business, purpose must be the starting point for strategy. It should provide a guiding light for the following questions:
This means your CEO needs to be a true advocate for the purpose. Genuinely challenging what it means for their leadership style, how they run their teams, and the KPIs they set. McKinsey eloquently state, "The role of the leader is first to inspire creative thinking about what makes you unique, how it links to purpose, and why it could be valuable — and then to encourage rigor in embedding it in your company’s core."
Don’t just say, do
It's not enough to say, 'we're now a purpose driven business *grand unveil*, here it is’. Businesses need to continually strive to PROVE their purpose – to themselves, their employees, their customers, and their stakeholders. Because if they don’t, it will simply fall flat and be a waste of time, money, and energy.
Authenticity is critical. It’s about more than just saying, it's about doing too.
So, before landing on a purpose statement, it’s important to consider the impact on brand, culture AND business strategy – both today and in the future. What will it mean? Can it be credibly delivered against? And most importantly, how can it be measured?
Lead by example
Putting purpose at the heart of your business requires a full re-appraisal of everything a business does. Your CEO and C-Suite play a critical role in leading for purpose. They must be the catalyst and lead by example.
This can seem unfamiliar or uncomfortable for some. And it's not an overnight job. But sharing the journey and being open and transparent will go a long way. As many studies have proven, truly putting purpose at the heart of a business not only positively impacts the bottom line, but also its people, customers, and potentially broader society too.
With our brand consultancy service, we work with our clients to discover and articulate their purpose, and crucially to embed and transform their businesses to be purpose-led from the inside out. For more information get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.