For the last few decades, I have led people and brands to authentically find purpose, harnessing our core DNA to focus, prioritize and communicate how we can solve problems on behalf of our clients/consumers with sustainable impact. During times of crisis, it’s more important than ever to dig into your purpose – whether you are doing so on behalf of company, a team, or as an individual. Many companies and their employees work harder and harder during stressful times with no end in sight.
By tapping into your real purpose, you make the most of your valuable and limited resources, focusing on what matters most.
In crisis and beyond, let purpose be your true north. We all want to help, but how do we do so in optimal ways?
Purpose allows you to:
- Focus & Filter, guiding difficult decisions based on your core values,
- Engage Employees with meaningful, empowering goals & actions,
- Innovate & Communicate more rapidly around evolving needs, and
- Partner Strategically to create scalable value.
Here are four strategies for Leading with Purpose, based on what the best brands do, as well as case examples and application practices. I hope they serve you well in finding the magic combination of purpose and performance – so you can add value both during this crisis and well beyond.
1. Focus & Filter
By leaning into your purpose or Leading with purpose, and not trying to be everything to all people – we can anchor to our true north and filter out the rest. This focus will guide you through the often difficult decisions we need to make during crisis around what’s best for your stakeholders, while also helping you prioritize longer term.
Case in Point: During the 2008 financial crisis, as I led a global institutional team at Northern Trust, we leaned into our principles of Service, Expertise and Principle in every decision we made. This guidepost led us to do the right thing for our clients, even if it meant taking losses well beyond our fiduciary responsibility. Even when it’s not the best short term financial decision, being true to purpose will strengthen customer bonds over the long term, fostering employee and customer retention, loyalty, and staying power. With Northern Trust around since 1889, their focused principles have certainly stood the test the time.
Practice: Use your purpose as a filter for every difficult decision you make, and let it guide you to the right answer that aligns with your core values & principles. If you don’t have clear purpose, now is the time to define and crystallize what it is!
2. Engage Employees
Tap into your most valuable resource – your employees – to figure out how you retool and regroup your assets and other resources for the biggest impact. Once you figure out what you plan to do, empower employees to make changes that matter – and importantly, release them from prior constraints and models that may not serve now.
Case in Point: In New York, where the medical community is facing great pressure to treat the growing Coronavirus cases, many hotel properties are repurposing their premises to offer lodging and support, needing to retool how they operate. When the Four Seasons decided to repurpose their NYC property to keep doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals well rested and safe, they formed a new employee team that included Dr. Quigley, the medical director for International SOS. Together, the expanded employee team was empowered to create a whole new system to deliver quality housing for a high-risk population. Instead of delicious breakfasts served to your door, they defined quality as “feeling safe” which is the ultimate luxury right now.
Practice: Enlist employees to tap into your assets and strengths to offer value where it’s most needed today; then empower teams to make a difference, and collaborate with different groups to achieve.
3. Innovate & Communicate
Innovation and Communication are always important for activating purpose. Yet in crisis, when people are feeling increased anxiety and stress, they are more critical than ever. Even when you don’t have a solution, being open and transparent that you are working towards developing one is paramount. Companies and leaders need to know that showing up now is the #1 priority, however that looks for you – with innovative services, products, advice or assurance – building from your core strengths. As a wise mentor once told me, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Case in point: Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) is the Google born company known for its transformative mindfulness-based emotional intelligence experience, delivered as a highly interactive, 2 day in person program. As soon as physical distancing was put in place, SIYLI engaged our global network of Certified Teachers to quickly adapt our program to virtual delivery, acknowledging it was new territory. With rapid collaboration, the virtual program garnered equally high survey results. In the education space, technology is playing a vital role to connect, offering a unique opportunity to take advantage of this innovation window with less risk and faster turnaround than before.
Practice: Ask what your constituents need now, and engage them in working towards a solution, even if you are building the plane while flying it! Get feedback and rapidly iterate for continuous improvement.
4. Choose Partners Strategically
As with any big crisis, we have increased need for certain services and waning needs for others. Understanding our purpose can lead to complementary strategic partnerships – where purposes align – to help create more win/win solutions for everyone.
Case in Point: With Shelter-in-Place and Stay-at-Home orders in effect, Amazon and Lyft faced two very different business circumstances. While both companies have delivery as part of their core purpose, Amazon’s delivery of products faced strong demand, while Lyft’s business of human delivery plummeted. Lyft’s strategic partnership with Amazon to redeploy their out-of-work drivers was a win-win for all: creating income for Lyft employees while helping to serve the broader community’s increased demand for door-to-door product delivery.
Practice: What do people rely on you to do for them – and how can you think creatively about new, complementary partnerships that could support a win-win situation for your company, your employees, and the community at large?
I hope you found these four strategies on Leading with Purpose to be useful. During this chaotic time, it’s wonderful to hear positive stories of how businesses are working hard to solve problems for the benefit of their constituents, humanity and our global environment. Please share feedback and examples of how you are leaning into Purpose and Leading with Purpose.
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Need help? If you’d like support in Defining Purpose or Accelerating Purpose as a business owner or executive, contact me at Stephanie@mindfiremastery.com to schedule a complimentary discovery call today. Leading with Purpose
Stephanie Klein is a keynote speaker, executive coach, certified teacher of Search Inside Yourself (SIY), and a brand and leadership consultant who is passionate about igniting leaders’ untapped potential to propel beyond functional to optimal in a complex, changing world. Stephanie has three decades of building purposeful leadership brands at Fortune 500 organizations, including Hallmark, United Airlines, Kraft, Alberto-Culver, Coca-Cola, Cboe Global Markets and Northern Trust.
In 2020, Stephanie founded Mindfire Mastery to “fire up minds” with emotionally intelligent awareness and resilience to empower leaders’ forward momentum. She is the author of “Waking Up on the Right Side of Wrong”, to be published in fall 2020, about how challenging, disruptive experiences can positively transform our lives.
During crisis, Leading with Purpose can help companies, leaders and individuals add value with limited resources in optimal ways. Here are four strategies & cases in action based on what I’ve seen the best brands do: 1. Focus & Filter, Northern Trust Corporation 2. Engage Employees, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, 3. Innovate & Communicate, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI),and 4. Partner strategically, Amazon & Lyft. I hope they serve you well in finding the magic combination of purpose and performance – for building value through crisis and beyond. leadingwithpurpose consciouscapitalism mindfulleadership employeeengagement innovationculture crisiscommunications