“Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity.”Business Roundtable, Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation
In times of great upheaval we have the opportunity to ask big, important questions. And I have not experienced a greater upheaval than this current COVID-19 crisis. Because of where we find ourselves today, our companies can use this time to review our fundamental “why.” Why do we exist? And, further: what is the role of the leader in defining that purpose?
Last year, the Business Roundtable issued a powerful statement that addresses the purpose of the corporation. Leading CEOs came together to commit to some important principles: that we should deliver value to our customers, we should deal fairly and ethically with our suppliers and we need to generate long-term value for our shareholders. But there were two points in the statement that seemed most relevant to where we find ourselves now: as companies, we should invest in our employees, and we should support the communities in which we work.
At Inzet, we recognize these principles. We work with our clients to help them understand that it is critical they invest in their employees, and that investing in their employees requires that they create a culture driven by a shared sense of purpose. We coach our clients on the critical truth that the best of our companies exist for more than a financial bottom line. Great companies understand that they must be a positive transforming force in the communities where they exist, both in physical or virtual space.
It should come as no surprise that the truly great companies – those that are both profitable and regularly voted the best places to work – have a clear sense of purpose:
- They know why they exist, and
- They know for whom they exist
Organizations like this gain a sense of purpose from leaders who have taken the time to think about these critical questions. Companies that are able to connect to a clear “why” are driven by an understanding of purpose that starts with the leadership. The soul searching of the leaders becomes the soul searching of the company. If there is no purpose-driven vision by the leaders, all the purpose work in the company will bear less fruit, the employees will not be transformed, and the community will not receive the benefit.
This is such an important question right now, as all of us are managing in a time of great change. We have the ability to think about big questions as we enter a new normal with new thoughts and new perspectives. We at Inzet help you to sort through these questions and help you reframe what may be an old story: valid then but maybe not today. We’d love to talk to you about this.