I recently attended, virtually, The British Academy’s Purpose-Based Summit on the Future of the Corporation. The British Academy is an independent fellowship of world-leading scholars and researchers who support new research and champion the humanities and social sciences. They mobilize these disciplines to understand the world and shape a brighter future.
I am not a professional humanitarian, nor am I a social scientist. So why, you might ask, have I attended The Academy’s Purpose Summit two years in a row? Because I am obsessed with purpose and want to learn how others are leveraging their purpose to drive progress.
Credit union leaders are facing big problems — recovery from a global pandemic, financial exclusion and inequality, poverty, and affordable housing, just to name a few. These are big problems, and big problems demand big attention.
I am committed to making an impact on the big problems we face, but I am only one person. And our credit union industry is relatively small — certainly when measured on a global scale. So, I find myself asking how to point my compass in the direction that will make the most meaningful impact. The experts say to focus on one thing at a time. Take one problem and just start. One step, however small, is a step forward.
“To lead with purpose, you first must define it. Purpose is your reason for existing.”
This moment is calling on all leaders, as humans, to act. The pandemic has pulled back the curtain on issues we can no longer ignore or respond to with cursory resolve. We cannot, should not, wait for someone else to create a purpose-driven framework. We must do it ourselves and then collectively learn from one another until we hit a tipping point.
Every journey starts with a single action. All great achievements start with individual resolve and commitment. So, let us commit to leading with purpose.
To lead with purpose, you first must define it. Purpose is human-centric. Purpose is inspirational and aspirational. Purpose is your reason for existing.
According to EY Beacon Institute, purpose sits at the core of why and how a firm does business — from what it does and why it exists, to how it makes decisions and designs long-term strategy. A well-defined purpose permeates the entire organization, and leading with purpose means the organization uses purpose as its first lens for investment, action, and interactions.
I encourage you to start using the word “purpose” as a verb for how you do business. Overlay your purpose onto everything you do — how you think, who you hire, how you engage your stakeholders, and what you focus on to measure success.
Research shows employees want meaning and purpose in their work. Leaders want to have a meaningful impact on their stakeholders. Members and communities want financial wellbeing and peace of mind. This is a convergence of need that can create a groundswell of change.
So, where do we start?
Examine purpose. Cleary define the organization’s purpose and infuse it throughout all levels of the enterprise.
Empower employees. Ensure employees know they can act in support of the organization’s purpose. Then, remove unnecessary obstacles in bringing that purpose to life.
Track success. Identify and report purpose-based success metrics. You measure what you treasure, so make certain the organization’s purpose-based success metrics receive the same visibility and attention as traditional financial metrics.
It is time to lead with purpose. It is time for action.
Act now. Act well. Act together. That’s how we’ll all go further.
Download Now: The Guide To A Purpose-Driven Organization
Continue your journey to becoming a purpose-driven organization. Download Callahan’s Guide To A Purpose-Driven Organization and learn three steps credit unions can take to start the discussion of purpose at your credit union and key resources to help facilitate the conversation.
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