Creating a Purpose-Driven Team (Continued): Tip #2 – Turn Your Purpose into Your Message
Make sure it’s an Authentic Message. ”Announcing” a company’s purpose has become a popular mandate…but it’s a dangerous one too. When a company converts its Purpose into its “message”, and then broadcasts that message…but the words in the message don’t actually govern the behavior of leadership, everyone recognizes the hypocrisy, employees become hyper-cynical, and the process can do irreparable harm.
Further, more often than not, Purpose Statements are put to the test when things are going badly. When leadership deviates from “standard business” protocols during times of crisis, but behaves in line with the company’s “message of purpose”, people undoubtedly notice. In short, people know if your purpose is authentic when it drives every single decision, even to unconventional decisions… especially when times are hard.
I have a friend… I’ll call her “K”… who has always been known as a very nice girl (that had always been her “message”, so to speak). A few years ago, I arranged a girl’s trip to Vegas with several friends, including K, and on the way, she ran into a series of (admittedly challenging) logistical snags. By the end of the day, despite our collective attempts to help, she was acting horribly to all of us… deftly alternating between outbursts, sulking, and back to outbursts. One of our other friends later confided to me “Wow. That behavior is so out of character for K”….and I remember thinking “Nope. Stress doesn’t change you…it reveals you”. And I think of “K” whenever I have eyes on the behavior of leadership to see if their “message” and their behavior are aligned…particularly during challenging times.
Bottom line: BEFORE you “message” your organization’s Purpose, make sure it can realistically withstand the test AND the quality of time, or it will backfire.
Make Sure it’s a Constant Message: The number of times someone has to hear something, before he/she remembers it, is hotly debated…but it’s widely accepted to be considerably more than once. And nobody understands the value of repetition more than the advertising industry. Imagine how many thousands of times you’ve heard the following slogans, but more importantly, consider how immediately you’re able to identify their corresponding products:
- Just do it
- What happens here, stays here
- Where’s the beef?
- Good to the last drop
- Melts in your mouth, not in your hand
- Breakfast of Champions
- Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is
- The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching head, fever so you can get rest medicine.
- Don’t Leave Home Without It
- 15 minutes could save 15% or more on car insurance
Now consider the role that mere repetition has played in driving each of those “messages” into our collective consciousness… indefinitely. The same goes for every organization’s message of purpose.
So… this Tip #2 argues that in order to create a Purpose-Driven Team, it is every leader’s job to first DISCOVER the message (Tip #1)… and then to (not only) BROADCAST it, but to LIVE it, and to REPEAT it.
So here’s my challenge for you: Are you, as the leader of your team(s) living and repeating your organization’s purpose? If not, what has interfered with your ability to do so? Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
In the meantime, stay tuned for more tips in this Blog series for creating a Purpose-Driven Team.