I talk a lot about Purpose or ‘Why’ for organizations. Purpose is a cause that is bigger than anyone on the team. Purpose is a mission that inspires team members to work harder for the cause than for their salary. Purpose is the glue that cements a culture to strategy.
Purpose is not profit – that’s an outcome. Yes, you old-school corner office dwellers, profit is important. It is like oxygen for an organization. But unless you are severely respiratory compromised, we don’t go around day-to-day thinking about oxygen.
I am going to run a new series called: “The Power of Purpose” where I am going to highlight leaders and organizations that understand the power of purpose. The power that attracts and retains talent like a magnet. The power that inspires, motivates and engages teams.
The first organization that I want to highlight is ‘Clearly.’ You can find them at www.clearly.ca. Clearly is a subsidiary of Essilor (the French ophthalmic optics company). An extremely talented and young CEO named Arnaud Bussieres leads Clearly and has been instrumental in bringing their purpose to life. Their purpose is simple… ‘Better Vison for Everyone’.
Most importantly, ‘Better Vision for Everyone’ is not just words on this page or on the wall at Clearly’s Vancouver head office. It is a purpose that the entire team lives every day. It is a purpose that has created a culture that attracts top talent from everywhere. Clearly does not advertise for new employee openings… they have a waiting list of people that want to join the company.
What is the belief behind their purpose? Arnaud explained it to me this way… “What would life be like for a 10-year girl in India that could not see properly? What would education be like for her?” We talked about the power of how when people understand that one pair of eyeglasses to that girl in India would radically change her life. Education happens. And, maybe, the next world leader (like Malala Yousafzai or Greta Thornburg) will grow, and teach the rest of us.
Here’s is how it works. When someone (like me… I have multiple pairs of Clearly prescription glasses) buys a pair of glasses from Clearly. They will donate a pair to someone in one of the 42 countries in the world. Better still, in Canada, any child under 10 years of age and under gets free eye glasses from Clearly.
There are 2.7billion people worldwide that cannot see properly. That is one third of the world’s population. To date, Clearly has donated 675,661 pair of glasses.
Yes, if you go to the Clearly head office in Vancouver, you will find their Purpose on the written on the wall. But here’s the difference and the leadership lesson… CEO Bussieres just doesn’t point to the Purpose written on the wall, he and the entire team are obsessed with it. They talk about it all the time!
OK, for all of you out there that doubt the shareholder benefit of the Power of Purpose like Cleary’s, here is the bottom line. Clearly’s top line has exploded under Bussieres leadership. Their bottom line has as well. Their operating expenses have been kept skinny because they do not waste a ton of money recruiting new talent (remember there is a waiting list of new talent that wants to be part of the Purpose.
How do you get the Power of Purpose? It is easier than you think. First keep it simple. Next, your Purpose has to answer the question ‘Why’. Not ‘What’ you do but why do you do it. Why do customers buy from you (it’s not your product or service – it’s deeper than that – more emotional).
Once you have it, then talk about it all the time. Catch people living the Purpose. And here is the big one… Purpose does not have a timeframe – it is a living thing that should outlast you, the leader. Oh, and as a bonus… Purpose does not take a back seat to profit. Companies that get it, understand that they will sacrifice profit to live their Purpose.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, #1 Best Selling Author, International Keynote Speaker, and TEC Top Speaker of the Year for 2018. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, connect with Robert on LinkedIn.
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