Make 2019 A Year That Matters

Dec 3rd, 2018


“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” 
― Victor Frankl


What role might purpose play in your strategy for 2019?  I have been struck this year by a growing number of clients talking openly about wanting to find meaning and purpose in their work and lives. Typically, these individuals are highly successful but have reached a certain point in their careers where they want to identify what fulfilment and success truly means to them – to reignite a motivational spark, create a legacy or simply be the best they can be.

A purposeful company is defined as ‘inspired by a clear role in the world that offers it a reason for being’. The Purposeful Company Taskforce, a consortium of FTSE companies, investment firms and policy advisors founded in 2015 overwhelmingly makes the business case in its latest report: “It is from delivering purpose that profit flows.”

As I write this piece, politicians are wrestling with Brexit, retailers are battling for survival and economic and business pressure look unlikely to ease in 2019. Christmas offers a moment to reflect. I therefore wish to offer ten thoughts on driving purpose throughout your organisation, to make 2019 a year that truly matters – to you, your teams, your business and your customers.


  1. Create the compass

As a leader, your role is to give your team hope.  Provide the compass, be very clear on the vision, even if there is uncertainty on the day to day.  To establish its overarching vision, one bank asked the simple question: ‘what pain point are we solving?” As a result, no matter what else is happening in the world, a single question unites thinking across the company: ‘Will this action make life easier for the customer?’


  1. Provide the space for innovation

Encourage and reward good ideas.  Run quarterly brainstorming sessions provoked by great questions, e.g. What are we going to regret in 2 years’ time that we did not address today? What is the No. 1 problem our customers want us to solve? Create a mix of collaborative, social and private spaces to maximise productivity.


  1. Take an honest look at your culture

Culture is often a set of words in an induction manual. How do you demonstrate the culture you wish to create? A client joined an organisation for the potential to transform its products for the 21st century, however his experience of working within the culture has been a very different experience – the lack of openness to challenge and creativity has demotivated him.  Take a step back and review with your people: Are we living our values?  What aspects of our culture could we improve?


  1. Discover what your team most enjoy about their work?

Ask your team members where they get the greatest satisfaction in their work? When you love what you do you are usually good at it and it contributes to your energy and motivation.  Provide more opportunities for this to be integrated into their role.


  1. Combine Technology with exquisite customer experience

In the age of technology and intense competition, the customer experience is your ‘edge’. Are you absolutely optimising it? One bank explained how a change in perspective had been essential. “We could be processing 500 mortgages a day, but for that one customer it’s not a mortgage; it’s a home. When you talk to a customer about a home, your approach and body language changes. – that’s the type of empathy and emotional intelligence we’re looking for in our people.”


  1. Does your workforce reflect your customers?

How can you know the mindset of your customers if your workforce does not reflect your customers?  Diversity in the workplace allows you the cross-board representation to meet your customer needs. A client commented how he found it difficult choosing graduates as they were all so similar, so he changed their recruitment policy from focusing almost solely on university graduates to developing an apprenticeship scheme to attract a broader employee base.


  1. Develop ambition and create opportunities for growth.

In my experience, ambitious people always want to be better. Even if people are doing a great job, ask people regularly, ‘what’s working and what could be even better?’  Embed this questioning into the culture and you will encourage ambition. Recently, a client team, who lost their leader, decided during this transition period to step up and take collective responsibility to succeed.  As a result, the innovated strategies they have created have brought them to the attention of the whole company and the board. Their commitment to the company has increased because the board is adopting their ideas and the team can see career opportunities ahead.


  1. Give a consistent message to customers.

Upheaval and economic uncertainty can lead to mixed messages.  I encourage teams to have a point on the weekly agenda: ‘What’s our message to the market and our customers?’ During uncertainty, customers need to be given a consistent message; it also helps once again to encourage debate and interaction between the team.


  1. Take a holistic approach to managing your teams

As a leader, take a personal interest in knowing the motivations and aspirations of your people beyond their immediate work. One of my clients has 40 direct reports across the globe.  He keeps with him one document which summarises the key ambitions and goals of each person noted from their annual appraisals.  Every time he meets them, he steers the conversation back to these ambitions.


  1. Develop yourself to be the best

Actions speak louder than words.  Leaders in purposeful companies have strong ethics which are demonstrated in the way in which they behave and the initiatives they support and people feel part of something bigger than their role.  They are authentic and honest in their communication so people trust them.  Where do you need to grow as a leader? How self-aware are you? Take regular time to reflect so you can process your ideas and aspirations and be the best version of you. 


I wish you a happy festive season and a moment to reflect and renew your energy for the year to come.


Would you like to take time out of your day-to-day to discover meaning and purpose for you, your teams, and your organisation? Bookings are now open for the 2019 Potential Plus one-to-one Vision Intensive Programme.


Related Articles:

The Power of Personal Vision on Performance

The Key to Great Performance