The perfect storm of Covid and Brexit is continuing to shape the business landscape in a whole new way. Simultaneously, the green agenda is gathering momentum with some businesses showing incredible dedication and blazing a trail for others to follow as we all look to minimise our impact on the planet.
In the face of economic challenges, logistical difficulties and the ongoing pandemic-fuelled uncertainty, businesses are also looking at ways to improve their performance, whether that’s through automation, retention of talent through flexible working practices, improving working environments or perhaps through rethinking their own business models.
From purpose to performance, mental wellbeing to inclusivity, The Business Exchange has asked for your insights on 8 Business Trends for 2022. We are sharing these as a series of eight articles between now and the beginning of the New Year. Here we take a look at trend number two.
The importance of purpose
The pandemic has changed our thinking and has made us question what’s important to us. Do I have a job that I enjoy? Does it connect with my values and purpose? A growing number of organisations are now putting purpose at their core to help them understand their role, direction and impact.
At a time when talent attraction and retention is more important than ever, purpose can help businesses to create an inclusive, collaborative culture with ‘buy-in’ from staff at all levels.
Cynthia Wihardja, Founder of The Brave Zone which guides coaches and leaders to find their identity and achieve using their strengths, considers the how, what and why of an organisation.
“I don’t think purpose is a new thing. Even though it has received more attention over the last few years, I believe people have been looking for this missing piece for a long time. They just don’t know how to articulate it. Employees would leave an organisation because they just “don’t feel right” or “they no longer feel good” about their leaders or their work. Clients would easily change suppliers because they don’t “have a relationship” with their existing one. The feeling of disengagement has been around for a long time. Now we know that one of the main causes of disengagement is a lack of purpose.
“Purpose is not the same as core values or ethos. Your purpose answers the question, “Why do you exist?” It is the mission your organisation seeks to accomplish. Your values and ethos are about how you go about achieving your mission; the way you work. Just to take it further, if your purpose is the why and your values are the how, then your products and services are the what.
“Your products and services are what is offered to people who resonate with your mission. A simple example is Apple. Their purpose or why is to think differently. How they do that is by creating innovative, user-friendly products made with good quality. What they sell includes laptops, phones etc.
“Many companies fail to engage their target market because they emphasise too much on the what and the how. Many companies sell what you sell; they also have good values / ethos. So what makes you more engaging and relevant to your target audience? Not your what and how. It’s your why! Why you exist and the impact you want to make will help you not only attract your ideal clients, but also inspire quality talents to work for you. This is why defining your purpose is an essential foundation to finding the soul of your enterprise, even before you work on fancy logos and branding.
“Usually, your purpose doesn’t change. What can change is your vision and goals. Your goals are your short-term milestone, while your vision is a more long-term one. And once you’ve achieved them, you may create new ones. An analogy that might help comes from a documentary about people climbing Mount Everest. A vision is like the mountain you want to climb; once you’ve climbed it, you may want to change to a different mountain. But your why is the reason why you climb mountains in the first place. In this particular documentary, the climbers said that they do what they do because they love pushing themselves to a new level of personal best. Achieving one’s personal best is the why. The mountain is just the what.
“In building my business coaching firms, my purpose is to help people find their genius and actualise their potential. For self-employed coaches, this means knowing how to position and market themselves in a way that suits their strengths and personality. It means building a business that gives them money and meaning. For business leaders, it means understanding themselves in a deeper way, and helping them make better business decisions that grow their company, create more jobs, groom new business leaders; help them and their teams build a life that they dream of. The values that resonate with me and my team are growth and contribution.
“Having this purpose inspires me to put my focus on “them” and not “me.” It’s about helping people, not just making money or selling things. What we do makes a real difference in people’s lives and we can be proud of the good work we’ve done with our clients. Having this purpose is like creating our legacy. My partners and I are not young anymore (between 47-63 years old). We want more than just a job or a way to increase our income. We want to do things that are meaningful. Even our employees are proud that they’re part of something important.
“Business is not always good, especially with the pandemic. We’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs but having a purpose gives us a reason to get up each morning and do our very best.”