Shared purpose

Shared purpose

September is the back-to-school month (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). Either if you’re a student or you’re a worker, you came back with, maybe, some new school year resolutions. If you recently became a leader, one of those thoughts should be building a shared purpose for your team.

A shared purpose drives collaboration, and it’s the beginning for developing a team to their highest point of contribution. Without shared purpose and, therefore, shared goals, the team is nothing more than a bunch of people working together.

To get your people excited, you need a compelling shared purpose.

Finding purpose

You all know about the importance of creating a vision. A place in the future picturing how your success looks like, your destination. The clearer the vision, the better. The driving force behind your vision is your purpose: why you’re heading to that destination.

There are few cases where the purpose is immediately shared; maybe because people feel identified or the context force it and there’s little to think (dealing with a crisis, for example) but that’s not very common.


You need to instil a sense of purpose in your team, but how can you communicate effectively?

People will never forget what you make them feel. Feelings are the best way to convey your vision, inspire your people and create that shared purpose.

Therefore, you need to build a meaningful message; not meaningful for you, but for them. Everyone has his personal purpose, a motivation that helps them find meaning in life. If you can fulfil their purpose at work, there is a complete win. Thus, you can structure your message covering multiple perspectives and point of views. By doing this, you’ll increase your chances to get everyone equally inspired. And first, you need to know them.

A great and well-known example of how a successful communication looks like is the famous story when President Kennedy visited NASA for the first time. During this visit, he met a janitor who was sweeping the corridor. The president asked him what he was doing for NASA, and the janitor replied: I’m helping put a man on the moon.

He knew perfectly the purpose of his work and his contribution. This is engagement.

Show, don’t tell

Einstein said that leading by example is not a mean to lead; it is the only mean.

You need to model the values and behaviours you want your people to have, including those related to purpose. Your actions impact in your team’s culture: what you value in your workplace. Needless to say, your company’s values should be aligned with your purpose, so do yours. Otherwise, it never becomes a shared one. It won’t be credible.

You need to bear in mind that what you value is not what you say, but what you show. Thus, aligning your leadership with your purpose and be coherent is key to success.

If you get there, now you can start building your strategy for this new school year! Not before. Remember that culture eats strategy for breakfast, if not aligned.