Lead with Purpose Tools and Resources

...solve thorny business challenges in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea


What happens to your results when you lead your business with purpose?


"What does your business stand for?"

STOP seeing profit as the core reason for the existance of your business

START living your firm's higher purpose and watch the profits follow

Successful business isn’t just about delivering your products or services to your customers for a profit – it’s about having a deeper meaning that connects with your customers, your employees and other stakeholders.

A clear sense of purpose brings clarity and alignment to everyone in your business.

Capturing a clear description of your firm’s purpose isn’t easy, but it is a source of sustainable competitive advantage when you make it happen, so worth the effort…

The one ‘BREAKTHROUGH QUESTION’ you must ask to help yourself…

When you know what you stand for, your Company will tap into the source of success that has paid off for many businesses small and large.

Ask yourself, your leadership team, all your staff and your customers a few important but challenging questions to discover for yourself what you, your team and your business stand for.


"What does your business stand for?"

Remember it’s rare to find a business that has in place a crystal-clear reason for being. Even more rare to see it lived by all the stakeholders in the business.

And yet it’s becoming harder to recruit quality team members or win new clients unless they can see, feel and experience your commitment to a higher purpose.

Where do all the best employees want to work? Where do the customers feel they should buy? Where do investors want to put their money?

Doing the hard work of defining what you stand for and making it real in your business will bring the rewards of a commited team, loyal customers and shareholders who are on your side.  And ultimately bring you the profits and capital value you seek.

Below, and in the accompanying Bitesize Business Breakthrough report, you’ll find insights that will help you discover and define your higher purpose...

Examples of purpose - good, true, beautiful and heroic

Grameen Bank – Indian bank: Empowering the poorest of the poor.

BrewDog – UK beer: To revolutionise the beer industry and completely redefine British beer-drinking culture.

Leon – UK fast food: If God did fast food.

Intuit – Worldwide business accounting software: Powering prosperity around the world.

Whole Foods Market – USA/UK food retailer: To nourish people and the planet.

Disney – film, TV, retail and parks: To use our imaginations to bring happiness to millions.

Johnson & Johnson – worldwide health products: To alleviate pain and suffering.

Southwest Airlines – USA airline: To give people the freedom to fly.

BMW – German car maker: To enable people to experience the joy of driving.

Patagonia – USA outdoor clothing maker: Together we reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.

Hampton Creek – USA food company: Everyone to be able to eat delicious food that’s healthier, sustainable, and affordable.

Wal-Mart – UK/USA retailer: To save people money so they can live better.

GSK – UK pharmaceuticals: Do more, feel better, live longer.

Zappos – US shoe company: To live and deliver WOW!

Google – worldwide search and IT: To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Exercise: which of four categories relate to the companies above?

It was the philosopher Plato who coined three transcendent ideals that ring true today for people and business. In his book ‘Conscious Capitalism’ John Mackey adds a fourth because of what he sees businesses trying to express:

The good

Service to others – seeking ways to grow the emotional intelligence of their business so they can nourish and encourage love, care and compassion toward customers, team members and their larger community. 

Example: Johnson & Johnson - To alleviate pain and suffering.

The true

Searching for truth and the pursuit of knowledge – improve the quality of life, the cost of our lifestyles declines, we live healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Example: Google – To organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

The beautiful

The pursuit of beauty and excellence and the quest for perfection – enriching people’s lives, making living more enjoyable.

Example: BMW – To enable people to experience the joy of driving.

The heroic

To really change things, make the world better, to solve insoluble problems, to achieve what others say is impossible.

Example: Grameen Bank – Empowering the poorest of the poor.

To help you see how these categories work ,simply label the example companies above as primarily being one of the four categories. Then talk through your answers from the questions checklist in section 3 below to help filter and fine tune your firm’s purpose.

Question checklist - Work out what you stand for?

Capturing a clear description of your firm’s purpose isn’t easy. But it is a source of sustainable competitive advantage, so worth the effort.

Ask yourself, your leadership team, your team and your customers a few questions:

  • Why does our business exist?
  • Why does our business need to exist?
  • What does your business (you) stand for?
  • Why is the world better because we are here?
  • Why would we be missed if we disappeared?
  • What is the contribution we want to make?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Why is what you do important to the people you serve?
  • Why does the existence of your organisation matter?
  • What is the functional benefit to your customers/constituents?
  • What is the emotional benefit to your customers/constituents?
  • What is the ultimate value to your customer/constituents?

Answer any of the questions “to make money,” and you’ll need to go back and reread everything up to this point. You missed the part about trying to make a difference first and letting the money follow. Ponder the questions on a deeper level.

“ask these types of questions, eventually you peel away enough layers of the onion to get to the heart of your business, With each new “why” you may want to think about it from a variety of perspectives” – Roy Spence – It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For

Gallup's drivers for fully engaging with your people

Gallup describe the journey to full employee engagement as a marathon not a sprint – but they also describe what must be done to achieve employee engagement.

Credence must be given to their research when you consider they have surveyed more than 82,000 teams – over 1.8 million employees – in 230 organisations across 49 industries and in 73 countries.

This research clearly shows that engaged employees produce better business outcomes than other employees – across industry, company size and nationality, and in good economic times and bad. For example, engaged teams generate the following results when compared with less engaged teams:

  • 21% higher profitability
  • 40% fewer quality defects
  • 10% higher customer ratings

Here is Gallup’s definition of engaged and non-engaged employees. Remember their research shows that worldwide only 15% of people are engaged in the work they do:


Engaged employees are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and work place. They are psychological "owners," drive performance and innovation, and move the organisation forward.

Not Engaged

Not engaged employees are psychologically unattached to their work and company. Because their engagement needs are not being fully met, they're putting time - but not energy or passion - into their work.

Actively Disengaged

Actively disengaged employees aren't just unhappy at work - they are resentful that their needs aren't being met and are acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

Gallup - What can your company do better to engage your employees?


The CEO, board and executives must agree on a well-defined purpose and brand identity for their organization.

That purpose will guide every subsequent decision and differentiate the brand to customers and employees.

This step is vital. It takes time. It often requires assistance from a neutral third party. But success depends on it.


These same leaders must draft a strategic business plan that explicitly connects engagement to business issues -- abstract concepts don't get traction.

For example, if the company is aiming at higher share price, note that companies with highly engaged employees have 147% greater EPS compared with their competition. Organic growth?

Highly engaged companies create engaged customers who return customer ratings and share of wallet two to three times greater than merely satisfied customers. 

Safety? Highly engaged workers have 70% fewer safety incidents. Whatever the goal, executives will be more committed if they understand the financial effect of engagement.


With those steps completed, executives will be better able to explain how engagement amplifies the purpose and brand of the organization and leads to desired business outcomes.

Some leaders may need individualized coaching to effectively communicate the connection between strategy and employee action; such assistance is readily available.

But only when engagement is understood as strategy can it be relayed into day-to-day activity.


Finally, leaders must be the source and authority on engagement, connecting it to everyday work, embedding it into existing processes and systems -- such as performance management systems, development programs and onboarding initiatives -- and incorporating the strategy in corporate communications, meetings and key decisions.

Only when leaders model attitudes, beliefs and behaviours can they create real change.

For more on the above go to the Gallup website - https://www.gallup.com/workplace/275834/new-employee-engagement-plan-shines-work.aspx

For a more detailed insight into Gallup’s employee engagement statistics and insights go here - https://www.gallup.com/workplace/285674/improve-employee-engagement-workplace.aspx

Mission or purpose and Firms of Endearment

Peter Drucker, world renowned management consultant and educator, once described a mission statement as a “statement of purpose.”

He went further to explain: “Words should be chosen for their meaning rather than beauty, for clarity over cleverness. The best mission/purpose statements are plain speech with no technical jargon and no adornments.”

And as Spence and Rushing say: When a mission statement is done well, it is a statement of purpose.

What matters is clarity. If you want to be pedantic:

  • Purpose – the difference you’re trying to make in the (your) world
  • Mission – the core strategy that when actioned will deliver your purpose

Lead with purpose and your business might just achieve some of the success the Firms of Endearment achieve:

The books and other resources

In this book Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey and Conscious Capitalism Inc. co-founder Raj Sisodia argue for the inherent good of both business and capitalism.

Featuring some of today’s best-known companies, they illustrate how these two forces can—and do—work most powerfully to create value for all stakeholders: including customers, employees, suppliers, investors, society, and the environment.

Conscious Capitalism

John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

Roy Spence has helped organisations such as Southwest Airlines, BMW, the University of Texas, Wal-Mart, the Clinton Global Initiative, and many others achieve greatness by obsessing about one big idea: PURPOSE. Simply put, purpose is a definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make in the world.

Purpose is the key to creating and maintaining a high-performing organisation, deserving just as much attention as strategy, execution, and innovation. 

A real purpose can’t just be words on paper. It has to get under the skin of every member of your organisation.

It's not what you sell, it's what you stand for

Roy M. Spence, Jr

Here’s Roy Spence in only a few minutes sharing his laid back thoughts on the power of leading with purpose quoting Jim Collins from ‘Built To Last’ and some Aristotle too!

Here’s John Mackey – founder of Whole Foods Market – sharing his insights and learnings about purpose. If you want to cut-to-the-chase go to minute 8 and hear John talk about money and it’s connection with business purpose. His comments about the purpose of the professions cuts through this issue brilliantly.

Finally, here’s an article in the Financial times sharing what they call a paradox about the most profitable companies that are not the most profit-focused!



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