Creating a Culture of Purpose

I don’t miss the corporate culture. Corporate culture is too often defined by the silos where people work and toil and not by how people matter. Silos isolate and keep people from engaging and collaborating, and they thwart an understanding of individual value and purpose because silos prevent the bigger picture from being revealed. We had a title and job duties, but the one thing that was most often missing was why we did what we did and then how what we do makes a difference. The typical answer was “so the company succeeds” or “so we meet and exceed the ROI” and all other sorts of such explanations. Silos kill sales, wreck morale and provide false security.

What’s missing from this tired and worn out narrative? A focus and commitment to foster individual purpose. Purpose drives behavior, morale, employee and customer retention. Purpose equals profits.

Business leaders have many competing expenses and costs to their businesses. One of the most expensive ones is turnover. People leave their jobs because they feel no purpose – no connection to the heart of the company. They don’t see a connection between what they do and the actual impact of their work and contribution. In other words, are you creating a company where people make the connection between what they do and how it creates a business? This culture is no longer optional because the costs of turnover are far higher than the costs of creating an environment that destroys silos. 

 We are all in sales. Every day everyone helps to influence someone to say “yes” to the company and us. It means that beyond a job title or your silo, everyone has a meaningful impact on the success of the team and the company. You are part of a complicated sales conversation that is like a jigsaw puzzle. Without you, the sale couldn’t happen. People want to be aware of their purpose because no one wakes up and is proud to be overhead. Unfortunately, the silo prevents individual purpose and value from being understood in this context because it can be challenging to see beyond the silo walls.

 So, how to define one’s purpose? Let’s call that “value proposition.” It’s how we answer the question “what do you do”? 

 It is that the responsibility is on the employee to figure this out by asking others, “what is it you think I do”? This process is called “vulnerability is nobility.” It is a high integrity move to make yourself vulnerable to ask others how they see your value and purpose. Leadership is responsible for hard wiring the organization to allow for this kind of engagement across the silos, which accelerates the development of a sales and purpose culture.

The answer isn’t your title because that doesn’t explain what you do. What you do means in simple terms “why should I engage you”? My value proposition is “I build sales culture.” Perhaps a lawyer who does child welfare law would say, “I keep children safe.”

Next, ask yourself this question – when was the last time someone took the time to say to a colleague “listen, when you did what you did, it helped us help the client say “yes.” We are taking the responsibility to bring down the silo by acknowledging how people’s contributions had a purpose. This narrative conveys a real sense of meaning and value by showing them that they have made a difference. When that “bridge” is built for people by people, we give them a strong sense of purpose and in parallel, we create a sales culture. It’s quite simple. Take the time to tell someone that what they did was helpful and profitable, and they will repeat that behavior over and over again. Then you have the destruction of silos, higher employee engagement and retention, and more sales.

 If you are skeptical, just run the numbers. If you still don’t see it, you are risking your most valuable asset – your people and chances are quite good that your competitors do get it and are running past you.

Todd Cohen, CSP has been inspiring and motivating audiences for over 12 years, teaching them to sell themselves to achieve goals and incredible success. His sales culture keynotes and workshops are in demand from audiences from every background, including sales people! Delivering approximately 85 appearances every year worldwide, Todd leaves people with a story to tell and feeling great about themselves!

You can learn more about Todd and book him for your next conference at toddcohen.com

2 thoughts on “Creating a Culture of Purpose”

  1. Jennifer Livingston

    Love this post, Todd! It seems like every new business book talks about purpose and gratitude to the point of empty sloganeering. But you nailed one simple way to connect people to a greater purpose, thank them for their contributions and build bridges across silos. Imagine what it would be like to work in a place where these conversations were commonplace!

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