One of the most effective ways to unify teams is crafting a shared purpose that everyone can rally around and work towards.
Much more than a simple goal or mission, which explains what a business does and who it does it for, a purpose statement unifies, inspires, and motivates the team to move forward, together. It’s action-oriented and defines the WHY we’re in existence.
Simon Sinek, the author of “Find Your Why,” has a simple sentence structure to help guide and shape your purpose statement. In his book, he recommends expressing your WHY statement in two main components.
- The first element, “To ____,” is the contribution the organization or group makes.
- The second element, “so that____,” is the impact or effect the contribution has on others.
For example, my company’s purpose statement is “To help and empower others, so that they can advance themselves, their teams, or organizations.”
Although the companies below may not follow Sinek’s suggested approach, here are some examples that capture the essence of their why:
- Alzheimer’s’ Association: A world without Alzheimer’s.
- Microsoft (when the company was founded): A computer on every desk and in every home.
- JetBlue: To inspire humanity – both in the air and on the ground.
- Starbuck’s: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
Just documenting a purpose is not enough.
Demonstrating that you are living your purpose and walking the talk is essential. In a Gallup article, Getting the Culture You Want, they pose questions you can ask your managers to see if they are supporting your overall purpose. I summarize a selection here:
- How well do our purpose, brand, and culture align?
- Is our purpose clear to our employees?
- Do our employees understand how our purpose impacts customers?
- Are we showing our commitment to our purpose through our various actions?
Understanding the WHY behind what we’re doing helps all those involved feel part of something bigger.
It automatically creates a sense of belonging and camaraderie, and when times are tough, it makes us more resilient. It can be difficult to uncover your team’s shared purpose, especially if you’re bringing together groups that have different focuses. However, it can be a powerful team-building activity that unites everyone to deliver on the overall mission and vision of the organization.