The biggest differentiator between failure and success is when people are doing something bigger than themselves.
Dr Andy Walshe, Co-Founder, Liminal Collective
Adaptation starts at the top. High-performing business leaders are responsible for ensuring the collective vision, purpose and beliefs of the business drive every decision.
Companies that endure through the Universal Arc are motivated by a core set of values. In their research for Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras did not find a single company that stated ‘profit maximisation’ or ‘maximising growth’ as its driving force – instead, these leaders articulated the organisation’s role in society and how it creates value for others1.
Done well, purpose becomes part of the business’ DNA. Leadership coach and director of Mojo Crowe, Ben Crowe, believes the most important thing a business can do is define its purpose as this will be the ‘north star’ that guides their decision-making, particularly in times of uncertainty and change.
If strategy is a series of conscious choices, then purpose guides leaders to embrace change as a strategic opportunity. It also provides hyper-focus: effective leaders are not afraid to say no to ideas when they don’t align with their values and core beliefs.
Amazon’s mission is to be ‘earth’s most customer-centric company’, gives it licence to operate a number of seemingly unrelated businesses with the commonality of solving customer problems.
This purpose is underpinned by 14 leadership principles, such as a mindset of ‘working backwards from the customer’ in every decision2. Take Amazon Prime, which addressed online shopping’s friction point: customer reluctance to pay for shipping.