Why Purpose is Needed Now More Than Ever

Why Purpose is Needed Now More Than Ever
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Joey Calandra (main photo) is an inventiologist at leading behavioural science and innovation consultancy Inventium with over 20 years’ experience driving innovation in the health industry. In this guest post, Calandra offers top tips on rediscovering your own personal purpose…

During times of crisis, like we are experiencing today, having your own personal leadership purpose helps navigate uncertainties1. Individuals with a strong sense of purpose are more resilient and exhibit better recovery from negative events2. Research actually conducted during the pandemic highlights this even further, showing that those people ‘living their purpose’ at work report levels of well-being five times higher than those who say they are not3.

Indeed, when individual purpose aligns with workplace, people get more meaning from their roles, are more productive and as a result, more likely to outperform their peers. Hence, the positive correlation between the purposefulness of employees and their organisation’s EBITDA margin4.

So how do you discover your individual purpose?

A great way to start is to mine your own life story to see the major themes and uncover your lifelong passion and values. Then craft this into an individual leadership purpose that leaves you energised and excited. This process was designed by Nick Craig and Scott Snook1. In their Harvard Business Review article, ‘From Purpose to Impact’, they unpack how to develop your own leadership purpose as a way to navigate the complex world we all live in.

It requires three questions to ask of yourself:

  1. What did you especially love doing when you were a child, before the world told you what you should or shouldn’t like or do?;
  2. What are the two most challenging life experiences you have gone through and how have they shaped you?; and
  3. What do you enjoy doing in your life now that helps you sing your song?

The tricky part is that because it’s almost impossible to identify your leadership purpose alone, you need to discuss these questions with those people that know you best. Your colleagues, friends and family. Take it from someone that went through this process, it is eye opening and an incredible learning experience to really understand your leadership purpose. It is like recognising who it is ‘you cannot help being1.’ I was amazed at how much I learnt about people, even my sisters who I am very close with and have known for more than 40 years.

For me, I discovered that my leadership purpose was ‘to inspire new possibilities through deep engagement and make these come alive with my own brand of colour, fun and passion’. With my purpose in hand, I then sought out a place where I could live that purpose every day. Over 12 months later, here I am writing an article as an Inventiologist at that place – Inventium. It was at the same time that the Business Roundtable, the CEO association of the United States, declared and committed to leading organisations based on purpose. That is, seeking to make valuable contributions to people and society that go beyond economic value5.

Is organisational purpose that important?

Yes! More than 90% of purpose driven organisations deliver above average growth and profits, and private equity investors consider purpose as a key consideration when deciding to invest6. In a world where attracting the best talent is paramount, a company’s purpose is the new X-factor. Many people, including millennials, want to work for organisations whose purpose resonates with them intellectually and emotionally. They consider purpose TWICE as important as compensation or career development6.

Clearly, Princeton from the Broadway musical, Avenue Q, was onto something when he sang the song “purpose”! That is why purpose is the crown of the framework that underpins the AFR BOSS Best Places to Work competition.

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