Nothing raises questions about life’s purpose like facing mortality

 In Leadership, Purpose

Why being purpose-driven matters

We’ve all heard about how important purpose is to both organisations and people, but does it really matter?

The answer is an unequivocal YES.

But don’t take it from me, here is what some of the world’s most successful leaders think.

Larry Fink, CEO BlackRock

“Purpose is not a mere tagline or marketing campaign;
it is a company’s fundamental reason for being
what it does every day to create value for its stakeholders.
Purpose is not the sole pursuit of profits but the animating force for achieving them”

James Mitchell, Former Managing Director, Innocent Drinks

 “Purpose is a currency far more valuable than stock options or cash.

When an individual finds the “why” it’s powerful.

When a team finds it, they become an unstoppable force”.

Simon Sinek

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

Here are a few reasons why they feel that way…

We have a fundamental need for purpose

The need for purpose is one of the defining characteristics of human beings. We crave purpose and can suffer serious psychological difficulties without it. Research commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation found that purpose “is a central component of most leading conceptions of optimal human development and psychological well-being” (pp 15-16).

This extract from their post above is a good example of how a sense of purpose can make a difference at both a personal and organisational level.

‘A sense of purpose in one’s career is correlated with both greater satisfaction at work as well as better work-related outputs. In a 2001 study of service workers, researchers indicated that some hospital cleaning staff considered themselves “mere janitors” while others thought of themselves as part of the overall team that brought healing to patients. These groups of individuals performed the same basic tasks, but they thought very differently about their sense of purpose in the organizations where they worked. Not surprisingly, the workers who viewed their role as having a healing function were more satisfied with their jobs, spent more time with patients, worked more closely with doctors and nurses, and found more meaning in their jobs."

Shared purpose at work can be transformational

This means that purpose is powerful for companies. A study published by Harvard Business Review showed that companies that had a clear purpose had better growth compared with companies that didn’t. The research found that 52% of purpose-driven companies experienced over 10% growth compared with 42% of non-purpose-driven companies. Purpose-driven companies benefited from greater global expansion (66% compared with 48%) and more product launches (56% compared with 33%). But perhaps most telling for the world we live in today, purpose-driven companies experienced more than three times the level of success in major transformation efforts (52% compared with 16%). And this research is from before the pandemic. Since then, the need to change or transform the way we all operate has become paramount.

Recent world events are making us all think about our Purpose in life

The pandemic, the latest UN report on the ‘irreversible impacts of climate change’, and the war in Ukraine, are making each of us think about the difference we want to make. As one Forbes article put it: “Nothing raises questions concerning life’s purpose like facing mortality”.

Now’s the time to explain why your organisation exists

So, every day, your people will bring both these conscious and unconscious thoughts to work. Like the hospital cleaners above, they will be looking to connect what they do every day to a purpose they believe in, and they will want to feel they work with people who believe the same things.

Now is the time to make sure your company’s Purpose is clear and compelling and is translated into everything you do.

We don’t all save lives. But we can all make our organisation a force for good, so we attract and inspire the people who believe what we believe.

If you’d like help surfacing your Purpose and defining HOW you deliver it, get in touch at

Crispin Manners is the Founder and CEO of Onva Consulting and Chairman and one for the Founders of Inspiring Workplaces

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