Lead with Purpose: John Baldoni


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John Baldoni, recognized leadership educator, executive coach, and author

It's up to leaders to ensure that organizational purpose is understood and acted upon. Based upon research and interviews with business executives in multiple sectors, John has concluded that there are five key "people-smart" things businesses must do to succeed. Join us as John shares tips from his latest book, “Lead with Purpose.”

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  • When organizations succeed it is because its people know what they do and why they do it. We say the organization has “purpose.” You can define purpose very simply as the impetus to meaningful action, what gets your organization up and moving toward its goals! When you enter a place where people are purposeful it is palpable. Be it a hospital or a manufacturer, when people know what their job is and how it connects to the mission they are engaged. They want to come to work and do their job because they derive meaning from it. Tom Draude, a retired Marine general and CEO of the Marine Corps University Foundation, calls it the “Sunday night test” which he defines as: “Are you looking forward to Monday morning?” Leaders need to say yes and feel that sense of purpose inside and radiate it others. Seeking to quantify what purpose is and how leaders can use it led me to write, Lead With Purpose: Giving Your Organization a Reason to Believe in Itself (Amacom 2011). As a result interviewing CEOs and thought leaders, and coupling it with survey research, I discovered that purpose is a great untapped reservoir that leaders can use to achieve sustainable results.  Purposeful organizations value their people, innovate more freely, and link results to employee effort. They also know how to develop the next generation of leaders, which lays the foundation for continued success.
  • Defining purpose is a straightforward proposition. In its simplest form, purpose is the organization’s reason for being. It is a combination of vision, mission and values. To define the purpose, you want to ask three questionsWhat is our vision, i.e., what do we want to become?What is our mission, i.e., what do we do now?What are our values, i.e., what are the behaviors we expect of ourselves? Answers to these questions will provoke thinking and discussion. Defining purpose, if one does not already exist, is an exercise in leadership. It is a means by which an organization comes to grips with how it sees itself.  True purpose does not exist in a vacuum. It must be put to good use. Leaders communicate it as a means to fulfilling the vision, mission and values. It also points people in the right direction so they can achieve results for the organization, for the team, and for themselves. 
  •  Create. Mission and values are fundamental but in themselves lack momentum. Movement should come from translating purpose into action. Before that can happen you need to think about what needs doing and why. The act of creation for organization becomes an act of translating purpose into roles and responsibilities, that is, who does what. Create also includes thinking about possibilities. Even when the mission is clear there may be many ways to fulfill it. Leaders must determine the best path forward and that is why creativity matters.  Collaborate. Clarity in purpose as it relates to mission, values and creativity enables employees to have a similar understanding about what is expected of them. They have what is necessary to work together but even better impetus to collaborate. Shared knowledge and values enable collaboration but cannot ensure it. Genuine collaboration will only come when people want to do it and can trust one another.  Execute. Getting the job done is the prerequisite for success. Purpose sets up what needs to be done but employees determine what gets done. They must be capable and competent as well as have the tools and resources necessary to complete the job. Performance depends upon capable execution by employees who are engaged in what they do. Their commitment to the task depends upon their ability to attend to the task at hand in such a way that that organization fulfills its purpose.
  • Prioritize people. While it may be cliché to say that people matter, reality dictates that they do indeed. So focus on developing their talents and their skills. Consider how you can harness their creativity and their desire to succeed.Putting people first is a platitude unless its intention is put into action. Recognition and rewards are essential especially when done in timely fashion. Over an above this employees want the opportunity to grow their careers; that is why promoting from within resonates.  Leaders reinforce the possibility of promotion when they give employees the opportunity to develop their talents and learn new skills. Compensation is important of course; employees want to feel as if their labor is valued.
  •  Why does my team need to know about purpose? This is the number one question. You need to answer it for yourself first, then explain to your team. For example, if you are in finance, what makes your work purposeful? This becomes an opportunity to link your team’s functional expertise. You are responsible for maintaining cash flow as well as providing guidance for planning decisions. How you explain that to your team will go a long way toward their understanding the implications of their work. How can I make purpose more relevant to my team? Your team is looking to you for answers so you need to make purpose explicit. The easy way is to explain how the work your team does contributes to the smooth running of the organization. A better way is to tell stories about the work. Consider how your customers judge your work. You likely have examples of success that are worth sharing. Returning to our finance example, talk about how one of your colleagues complimented your team on making the budgeting process easier to understand. This in turn made it possible for your colleague to complete the planning process in a more timely fashion.
  •  Communicate the vision to all employees. Be clear, coherent and consistent. Ask teams to develop their team vision statements that complement the organizational vision. Find ways to make the mission tangible to all employees, that is, link it to job function and job task. Make the connection between what an employee does and how that job complements purpose. Set clear expectations for behavior that model organizational values. Hold yourself accountable first. Find ways to reward achievements of individuals. 
  • Make ambiguity comfortable. The world as we knew in 2007 is over. And it is never coming back. With it comes a sense of unease. We had grown accustomed to growth as a universal right. No longer will that be true. In business, black and white is a luxury. Gray is the new norm. Live with it. 
  • Spread cheer. What we are going through is unprecedented in recent times. The worst may or may not be over job-wise, so it is up to leaders on the ground to maintain perspective. They need to lead from the front, dispensing confidence and good cheer. This is not Pollyanna; it is what leaders always do in crisis. We follow leaders not because they bring us down, but largely because they uplift our spirits with their attitude, words, and example.
  • Turn will into results. The world is tough and people matter, but you still have to get the work done. So what do leaders need to do to get things done right? Consider how to turn ideas into practicality.  
  • Listen to the grapevine. So often companies the communicate from the top‑down miss out on the most dynamic form of communications in the organization – what people talk about in the hallways or in the break room. Call it the grapevine; it is where you get a feel for the pulse of what’s happening, or what’s not happening. Leaders who want to nurture innovation need to tune into it.  Understand that anyone can be creative. Innovation is applied creativity. The application may come from management but the creativity comes from employees who see a better way of doing things.  Look at your customer. Many companies innovate from the bottom up. The push upward comes from front‑line people as well as customers. Together they make a potent force for change.  Study your competition. Picture yourself standing on the highway. All of a sudden a large vehicle comes out of nowhere and whizzes past, so fast that it muses your hair and ruffles your clothes. The good news is that great innovations for many companies are often just around the proverbial bend, either in the form of a new piece of hardware, software, or netware. Looking at the competition is a good impetus for innovation. The trick, however, is not to become mesmerized by what you see.  
  • Make it safe to fail (as well as prevail). Pragmatism is the engine of innovation. While it relies upon creativity for spark, it is ingenuity that turns ideas into practical concepts. That requires a sense of pragmatism, that is a sense of what works and what does not. No company will succeed all of the time but it needs to allow its work force to experiment. Reasonable risk is necessary to survival and so failure must be an option. 
  • What can I do to help? A manager’s job is to support the output. Sometimes her job to provide resources; sometimes it is to lend a hand with the heavy lifting. Always the manager must be in a position to help the team achieve its objectives. When a manager asks how she can help, she invites discussion and demonstrates that she understands her responsibility to support others. No question could be more fundamental to creating engagement.
  • Failure of leadership is a prime culprit; senior executives in many companies put short-term gain again of long-term sustainability and as a result many businesses, especially those in the automotive and financial sectors, suffered catastrophic losses. Just as business schools are revamping their curricula to prepare their students for the new tomorrow, that is, with more emphasis on ethics and sustainability, as well as critical thinking, I would suggest that practitioners of leadership development do the very same. Here are five points that I have gleaned from my observation and participation in successful leadership development efforts.
  • Capacity:what do I know about myself? Self-awareness is essential to leadership. Helping a leader gain a better picture of his strengths and growth opportunities is critical. One way to help participants understand themselves is through the assessment process which can be a combination of standardized self-assessments as well as 360-evaluations. The latter can give a good picture of how the leader is perceived by others which is fundamental to true self knowledge. Competency:what does it take to be a leader in my organization? Many organizations for whom I have worked spend a great deal of time and energy considering the behaviors necessary to lead as well as the values such leaders must possess. The coupling of behaviors with values sets expectations for leaders to be honest and ethical as well as on notice to treat others as they would wish to be treated. [Yes, the Golden Rule.]  Challenges:what is holding us back from achieving our goals? Now it’s time for a reality check. Good leadership programs are those that address the roadblocks an organization is facing. Such roadblocks may be cultural (no one communicates), managerial (incompetence), lack of direction (no vision), or failure to execute (lack of consistency). Addressing these real world issues in the context of a course is vital to credibility as well as preparing people to deal with adversity. Solutions: how can we solve problems facing the organization? This is thinking cap time. Innovation is essential to growth but innovation may be applied to solving problems. Programs that stimulate critical thinking as well as creative approaches are those that broaden the definition of leadership beyond leader and follower into solving problems that prevent professional and organizational development. Opportunities: what results can we achieve by demonstrating leadership? It is important to challenge participants to think about what they can do to effect positive change in their organization. Small changes may include shifts in behavior that make them better communicators, delegators and supervisors. Big changes may include ways to change the culture so that the organization is more responsive to customer needs; such a change would require more front line leadership and better listening from those in positions of power.
  • Be there. This is the tough one. Being there means being part of the action, becoming actively engaged in the process of stemming the crisis or putting the organization back together after the crisis has passed. One of my heroes who illustrates this best is Ernest Shackleton, the early 20th century Antarctic explorer. When his team was stranded on the ice and later on a small island off Antarctica it was Shackleton as "boss" who was there to provide support, discipline and good cheer all in good measure
  • The cold hard reality of crisis management is that crises are unpredictable. Seldom do they follow a script, this means that leaders need to be active and engaged whenever called upon to do so. And they must do so with a sense of calmness and control. A leader who withdraws from the fray or seems hopelessly lost sends the worst kind of signals. This breeds fear from which no good can come.No leader can stop a hurricane, or the after-effects of a product recall gone wrong, but he or she can step up and exert command over the situation. This comes from knowing the circumstances, trusting in the judgment of colleagues and making decisions deliberately and decisively. We call that leadership.
  • Lead with Purpose: John Baldoni

    1. 1. Lead With Purpose!© 2011 John Baldoni
    2. 2. Rypple Leadership Series Your Host Our Guest Nick Stein John Baldoni @stein_nick @JohnBaldoniDirector of Content & Media Leadership Expert Rypple Baldoni Consulting LLC
    3. 3. Social Goals
    4. 4. Rypple Leadership Series Your Host Our Guest Nick Stein John Baldoni @stein_nick @JohnBaldoniDirector of Content & Media Leadership Expert Rypple Baldoni Consulting LLC
    5. 5. Lead With Purpose: Giving YourOrganization a Reason to Believe in Itself(AMACOM Books)www.LeadwithPurpose.biz
    6. 6. “The secret of success is constancyto purpose.” Benjamin Disraeli
    7. 7. Who + WhyImpetus for Action
    8. 8. Elements of Purposeful Work Happiness Enrichment Satisfaction Meaning
    9. 9. Purpose in the Workplace90% of those surveyed, leaders must… • Communicate the vision • Link work to results • Show how customers benefit • Do what they promise • Instill confidenceAMA/NFI Research 2010
    10. 10. Origin of PurposeVision Mission Values
    11. 11. Purpose for ResultsCreate Collaborate Execute
    12. 12. Prioritize People
    13. 13. Put People First>80% of those surveyed, leadersmust…• Deliver intrinsic awards (comp. time, bonuses, etc.)• Offer developmental opportunities• Provide timely recognition• Promote from withinAMA/NFI Research 2010
    14. 14. What Does My Team Need toKnow about Purpose?How Can I Make PurposeRelevant to My Team?
    15. 15. How to instill purpose Communicate Act Lead
    16. 16. Make Ambiguity Understandable
    17. 17. Make Unknown More Uncomfortable>85% of those surveyed, leadersmust…• Provide vision• Set clear expectations• Engage in planningAMA/NFI Research 2010
    18. 18. Square the CircleBe pragmaticPersevereSpread Cheer
    19. 19. Turn Intention into Results
    20. 20. Stimulate Innovation 75% of those surveyed, leaders must… • Identify what it takes to innovate • Create internal think-tanks • Challenge everyone to think creatively • Reward employees for ideas into actionAMA/NFI Research 2010
    21. 21. Stimuli for Innovation Employee Customer Competitor
    22. 22. Paired for Innovation Left Brain Right Brain• Rational, logical • Imaginative, intuitive,• Sequential analytic whimsical processing • Holistic framing• Verbal/Grammatical • Visual/Gestures• Literal • Perceptual, metaphorical• Objective • Subjective• Time-sensitive • Time-free• Accuracy • Ambiguity, paradox Darrell Rigby, Kara Gruver & James Allen “Innovation in Turbulent Times” Harvard Business Review June 2009
    23. 23. Supporting Actions• Match authority to • Cherish employees as responsibility. contributors• Enable employees to • Take the long view, create their own job especially when things descriptions. are tough.
    24. 24. Make It Safe to Fail (and Prevail)
    25. 25. Encourage risk-taking >85% of those surveyed, leaders must… • Challenge employees to think outside the box • Reward employees for taking risks • Provide clear guidance of strategic direction • Recognize people who overcome job challengesAMA/NFI Research 2010
    26. 26. Engagement creates Trust!
    27. 27. What is happening?What are you hearing?What can I do to help?
    28. 28. Enable Others to Lead
    29. 29. Groom Next Generation of Leaders90% of those surveyed, leaders must…• Identify high potential employees• Encourage job rotations• Offer professional development• Provide coaching/mentoringAMA/NFI Research 2010
    30. 30. Leadership Development Capability What do you know about youCompetency What does it take to be a leader Challenges What is holding back leaders from leading Solutions How can leaders solve problemsOpportunities What can leaders achieve
    31. 31. Be •SeenBe •HeardBe •There
    32. 32. Measure of Your Legacy
    33. 33. Upcoming WebinarsHow To Do More Great Work Coaching with Compassion pt. 2 Wednesday, November 16, 2011 Tuesday, November 29, 2011 Michael Bungay Stanier Suzanne Rotondo Box of Crayons Teleos Leadership Institute
    34. 34. Questions?