Purposeful Leadership: Is It Time To Revise Your Foundational Statements?
As our organizations develop and as our beliefs about the role of business evolve, our Foundational Statements may need to change.
These statements are the firm ground upon which our organizations stand; and while they shouldn’t be updated too often, there are times when it is important to ensure they still resonate. Beginnings and new developments, major shifts in business philosophy, and a sense of “something’s missing,” alert us to turn our attention back to these underpinnings.
You don’t have an organizational purpose.
It’s become clear that business in the corporate world is no longer solely about our organization’s financial success or the success of our shareholders. It’s about what we make possible for, and the impact we make on all stakeholders. In thinking on this new responsibility, and stepping into our roles as purpose-driven leaders, our traditional statement make-up of mission, vision and values isn’t enough. To meet the expectations of stakeholder orientation, we must add purpose to our statement mix.
What promise does purpose hold for us? What can it help us do? We love what Larry Fink of Blackrock, an advocate for Purpose, illuminates, “Purpose unifies management, employees, and communities. It drives ethical behavior and creates an essential check on actions that go against the best interests of stakeholders. Purpose guides culture, provides a framework for consistent decision-making, and, ultimately, helps sustain long-term financial returns for the shareholders of your company.”
When you’re ready to become a purpose-driven organization, you have to redefine what your company stands for and what it seeks to champion. Your new statements must be built around your purpose, and point back to how that purpose is made real. By adding on this missing bookend, you open up your organization to opportunities to impact all stakeholders in positive, and lasting, ways.
You have new leadership.
Leadership transitions, such as those that occur during mergers and acquisitions or succession situations, are an opportune time to assess your statement makeup. New leaders often desire to take the organization through large-scale change efforts and want to align the company culture to a new vision for the future. In order to set off on the right footing, effective leaders must remind themselves of what they stand for as an organization and what their responsibilities are at the helm.
The time spent reviewing and revising these statements bonds leadership teams around a shared purpose and unites them in a shared vision for how they will move the organization forward. It’s essential for business leaders to accept the statements and to feel personally accountable for bringing them to life. They must walk their talk. Only with this kind of unity can leadership teams speak to the rest of the organization as a singular front and make substantial progress on transformation efforts.
With a revised set of Foundational Statements and a refreshed enthusiasm to bring them to life, new leaders can galvanize employees, magnetize the right stakeholders and optimize action strategies. By simply updating what the beliefs of the business are, and committing to acting on them, leaders demonstrate what the transition to their leadership means for the organization’s future.
You want to leave a legacy.
Meaning is what makes our lives rich and fulfilling. Meaning in our work often comes from the challenges we overcome and the impact we have on others’ lives. These resulting stories are what turn into our legacy. If you’re a leader who has been thinking more about your legacy, or the legacy of your business, it might be time to renew your foundational statements to guide your organization to focus on impact above all else.
It takes conviction to leave a legacy. Strong and clear Foundational Statements are the underpinning for making difficult daily decisions. With statements in place, it’s easier to say “no” to things that are not in alignment with your organizations’ intentions.
Foundational statements can also provide a clear expectation of how each person must behave at work and create a framework for employee engagement programs. This only increases the likelihood that employees will create significant and meaningful moments in their day-to-day interactions.
After illuminating and sharing your statements, future leaders and others in your organization can continue to make a positive impact with the guidance of your original aspirations. Your organization, and your own legacy, will live on in the stories told of the great challenges and the great changes that came about because of your commitment to unleashing the best of what your organization has to offer.
You’re embarking on a new change initiative.
When undergoing any new strategic business change, like ESG, HSE or D&I efforts, it’s imperative that the change initiative is tied into an organizational purpose from the get-go. All efforts should support the enlivening of your purpose, and none can live outside of that overarching story or direction. Otherwise you run into issues like misalignment between words and deeds or a scatter-shot approach that won’t make a real impact.
Once you’ve established your Foundational Statements, you can use your powerful foundation to determine where, and how, to focus your efforts. As you identify the issues your strategies will tackle, and as you draft your plans, you can measure against your purpose and other statements. Does each component of your strategy help your company achieve its purpose? Does your vision become real through your efforts? You can also assess whether or not your organization is doing what it needs to do to make these efforts real. You can say you are making an ESG or HSE change, but does your culture support that statement? Do your values and behaviors contribute to successful adoption and implementation?
When these transformations are part of who you are, how you show up and what you stand for, it is easier for you to mobilize internal support, to gain the credibility, reputation, and differentiation you seek, and to build trust with all those counting on you to make a change.
Revising and renewing Foundational Statements is no small task, especially if your statements have been around for quite some time. But, when faced with the triggers we’ve mentioned above, it’s the perfect opportunity for leaders to update the statements to the benefit of your business. After all, you want to be using these statements to guide everything you do, and you can’t have them die on a wall or a memo somewhere. They must inspire you to act and create a vibrant future for your business and the world.
Ready to revise or create your company’s Foundational Statements? Schedule a free discovery call to get one-on-one support for crafting compelling foundational statements that can drive your brand and culture.
Savage Brands believes in unleashing the good inherent within all organizations. Business results are driven by connecting with people at the belief level. That’s why we align everything a company says and does with its Purpose through a proven process that links strategy and execution with “why.” We solve the challenges corporate America faces by building tribal loyalty from the inside out, focusing on people first to deliver authentic brand experiences. Savage builds purposeful brands, communications, leaders and cultures.