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March 1, 2020 //

CREATING A PURPOSE-DRIVEN TEAM (CONTINUED): TIP #3 – GROW PURPOSE-DRIVEN “CRUSADERS”

Leaders cannot do anything alone, and creating purpose-driven teams is no exception.  The message may be formalized at the “top”, but purpose-driven cultures cannot be mandated from the “top-down”.   Rather, it’s up to leaders to foster crusaders who will spread and model that message “in all directions” throughout the organization.  Below are three (3) observations on which I’ve personally relied, in order to grow these purpose-driven “crusaders”.

The Best Crusaders Stay Challenged

Bottom line:  Employees want to think, learn, and grow…particularly those who are encouraged to embrace their organization’s purposes.  So challenge them…and (in true Agile fashion) encourage them to fail fast and fail often!

Every time a leader gives an employee a new/difficult challenge (AND embraces the risk of failure that accompanies this learning curve), it shows faith in that person’s potential, and the job becomes an incubator for learning and development.  Along the way that employee gains confidence, AND becomes more committed to the organization, and the higher purpose that drives it.

As a result, and more importantly (in terms of Agile principles), there is less and less need for managerial control, because the employees internalize the organization’s strategic purpose, and they can carry it out, even when the leader isn’t right there. [Footnote: This approach assumes that the leaders have communicated the organization’s higher purpose with utter clarity (per my last blog on this topic: “Tip 2 – Turn Your Purpose into Your Message”)].

The Best Crusaders Make it Personal

Not everyone is born knowing how to “communicate a message”.   Even once leaders have done an amazing job discovering and modeling their organization’s purpose, they may not know exactly how to communicate that purpose…and the same goes for their crusaders.  My recommendation to everyone (regardless of job title):  When you are communicating your organization’s purpose, make it relatable by making it PERSONAL.   Once you learn how to develop and tell compelling stories that convey your personal and/or professional purpose, and how that personal “identity” relates to your organization’s purpose, you will have permanently unlocked the power of that message.  There’s an old expression in the writing world: “Write What You Know”.  But (despite its common misinterpretation), that idiom doesn’t necessarily apply to the story’s plot…so much as the thoughts and feelings that the plot elicits in its characters.  And the more those thoughts/feelings mirror that of the author, the more that authenticity bridges the “relatability” gap between the author and his/her reader.  The same principle applies here.  When you, as a leader, openly share the connection between your organization’s purpose and your own, you are no longer reading from a company playbook – you are sharing a vulnerable, sincere…and exponentially more MEMORABLE…moment.  The beauty of this approach is that it also inspires others to make that same (“personal to organizational”) connection in their own minds, and thereby reignites their passions for the organization, its purpose, and (because everyone’s connection will be different) their UNIQUE VALUE within that organization.

The Best Crusaders are Already at Your Fingertips

Every organization already has a pool of naturally crusading change-agents. Widely spread throughout your organization are mature, optimism-oriented, purpose-driven people. They are open-minded.  They are willing to take initiative.  They are trusted by others.  They effortlessly inspire others.

For heaven’s sake, don’t waste these resources.  Formally enlist these “natural” change-agents to share the message AND to return to you with feedback and new ideas.


So…this Tip #3 to Creating a Purpose-Driven Team argues that it’s up to you, as leaders, to foster crusaders who will spread and model the message of your organization’s purpose…rather than trying to mandate a purpose-driven culture.

Here’s my challenge for you:  Are you, as the leader of your team(s) using any of the three observations above in order to “foster purpose-driven crusaders”.  If so, which ones have you found to be successful?  Or maybe you have additional observations of your own on which you’ve capitalized for this purpose?  Leave your comments below.  We’d love to hear from you!

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