Is the Future in Purpose?

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I read a very interesting article from Backchannel called The Portrait of a Future Leader. An interesting article, it laid out five traits of the leader of the future. These included:

  1. High emotional intelligence (EQ)
  2. Being a proponent of a purpose driven strategy and culture
  3. Being a life-long learner
  4. Being highly diverse (which means to them not white and not male)
  5. Having an entrepreneurial mindset

Certainly a great set of traits to have, I would highly recommend reading this short, yet cogent, piece that sums up the way the world seems to be moving.

Purpose or Charismatic Leadership

Purpose has been around for a long time. It’s more than having charismatic leadership. My guess is that each new generation rediscovers “purpose” and redefines it in their own terms. I think new worlds get discovered, new ways are created, and new governments are formed because someone had a “purpose.” My generation’s purpose was to stop wars from being fought. (Obviously not too successfully) Humans in general have the universal question of “purpose.” We wonder why we are here on earth. So it is not a new drive, not a new question, it is just one being re-asked by a new generation.

Purpose, however, is something that companies do need to pay attention to in trying to recruit new talent and then engage this talent as employees. Millennial candidates do evaluate a potential employer based on their perception of the “purpose” of the company. At the SHRM National conference in Chicago in 2013 one of the most popular keynoters was Blake Mycoski, the founder and CEO of Tom’s Shoes. He displays not onlycharismatic leadership but also talked about his company’s goal of providing shoes for children of the world by giving a pair of shoes for every pair of shoes purchased. This created a great deal of buzz and won him some customers in the crowd. The article in Backchannel says:

Success metrics are also shifting drastically. In the future of work, it’s not all about profit. There will be a strong integration of purpose emerging in the workplace. Organizations will need to have purpose-driven values in order to attract talent and stay relevant. That means they’ll need to create a positive impact, and their culture will need to nurture meaningful relationships, provide ample opportunity for personal growth while hitting targeted goals.

Does your company have a purpose?

Many younger companies are being founded for a purpose that goes beyond just making money. If you think about it however, there are already many organizations that have been founded with a “purpose” in mind beyond making a profit. In fact they are called “non-profits” just for that reason. Larger for profit companies work on making their “purpose” more apparent, having recognized the value of “purpose” in doing business. You can see this reflected in their advertising.

For the foreseeable future then the “purpose” your company has will be important. It will be important in attracting talent; it will be important in engaging employees; it will be important in attracting customers; and it will be important in making money. If you are not communicating your “purpose” in today’s world you will be a loser, at least until the next generation redefines what purpose means.

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