A purpose-led organization starts with mindset. It is important that everyone’s thinking is aligned and in the right frame of mind to create a purpose.
First, you as the leader need to decide and be intentional about creating and living a purpose.
As the leader, you are your company's evangelist: people need to see you when they think of their purpose, and it’s important that this is authentic and real.
To be able to find our purpose, we first need to look for possibilities. And the possibilities are all around us. The Art of Possibilities by Ben Zander has been a key to my own success. It's not positive thinking or just saying something is good when it isn’t, it's looking for opportunities everywhere and in everything.
Glorious Opportunity V Situation Hopeless
"A couple of shoe salesmen visited Africa in the 1900s. Upon arrival they observed that no one wore shoes. When they sent telegrams back to the office, the first commented: 'Situation hopeless, they don't wear shoes.'; the second wrote: ‘Glorious opportunity, they don't wear shoes.'"
How can we?
Wow, that's exciting!
It's not what we wanted, so
what did we learn?
Let's try this!
It can't be done.
That seems risky.
This is terrible.
That won't work.
In a culture of possibilities, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities coming your way that will be missed by your competitors. This mindset has to start at the top, with senior leaders. A company living the art of possibilities is a lot more fun to work in too: no doom and gloom; instead, scope, excitement, and energy.
Possibilities brings spirit to your organisation. With your new culture there will be less bad news to worry about, as your organisation now has a reason to exist other than to make money. Emotion is the counterbalance to logic. And logic, while important, doesn’t lead to achieving big dreams. Big dreams come from our emotional side, our passion. The power of humanity is our ability to balance logic and emotion, but the challenge in most organisations is that the emotion and passion are missing. Possibilities harness our emotions and bring them back into our organisation. In a world of seeing possibilities and opportunities, it is easier to think big and change the game – it becomes natural and oh so powerful.
Possibilities also lead to big goals, and big goals are important. Many people fear setting them as, ultimately, they will have to meet them. A big goal is important: without it your teams have no target to aim for, and aren’t considering how to achieve it.
Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
— Frank Outlaw
This quote is so powerful, it shows how we can be conditioned to the negative instead of the positive. There is no success to protect you from the downward spiral. We have already seen the difference between an organisation looking for opportunities, versus an organisation looking for issues.
At one pharma company where I worked, we had a major goal to secure funding for our cure. We decided we needed to talk with the Government about this and the opportunity it provided to effectively eradicate a disease from the country.
We needed to understand how to work with the government better, so we brought in a consultant to advise us. We shared with them our ambition and challenges. About a month into this project, the consultant highlighted an opportunity to appear before the Government Health Select Committee and raise the profile of the disease.
We seized the opportunity with open arms and immediately began discussions with clinicians – the best people to present to the Government. The key person was also the adviser to the government reimbursement agency, and firmly loyal to our main competitor. We engaged him, and he was one of the keynote speakers.
This was an absolute game changer! Through working with our team and getting the presentation done, his view of our organization changed – in fact, he couldn’t believe the work we were doing to shape the environment for people living with a terrible disease.
It’s important to break out of negative worst-case scenarios.
Recognise the downward spiral; choose ‘Situation hopeless’ or ‘Glorious opportunity’. The words you use matter.
Recognise the power of emotion and passion. These qualities lead to action and execution.
Possibilities create ambition and big goals, which in turn drive innovation.
When you see the world through possibilities, you will attract your own luck.