In the research interviews that I am carrying these days, I am constantly hearing that an organisation’s purpose has to be defined by the CEO, the leadership team, or the board of directors.
It’s like we all assume that the bosses know better than anybody else.
As parents, do we also assume that we know better our kid’s purpose in life?
Personally, I’d be very excited at the idea that my two boys become consultants just like me. But that doesn’t mean that I get to project that on them. That would be harmful to them. I would kill their identity.
So, why do we project our ego-driven desires on our organization?
No wonder so many people are disengaged at work.
Your colleagues are equally capable of sensing and telling what kind of impact the organization has on the community. There is no rank in the hierarchy more qualified than others at this task.
In fact, your front line colleagues are probably best positioned to see the impact of their work and what the organization’s purpose looks like. That’s especially true for service roles, where interactions with customers, users, students, patients and the whole community are frequent.
Why couldn’t we trust them to define why the company exist?
Why does it have to be a leadership-only thing to do?
If you are in a management position, leading might mean that you could pass the microphone and encourage everyone to take a turn at telling why their job and the organization matters. Your responsibility would be to facilitate this discussion and make sure everyone feels heard.
Don’t assume that you know. Don’t assume that you know what people would say.