The ambition of the founders
How to define shared purpose?
Recently we were asked by the founders of a company in the scale-up phase to help them clarify their future direction. Actually, both of them had a very strong sense of purpose, but the people working with them didn’t always understand their future focus. Once we got to know them better, we realized that their strong personal purposes were in fact the reason their stories didn’t completely align. Having started the company together, they took it for granted that their ambitions overlapped but naturally there were still differences as well. What would it take to come to one shared purpose that would not be a weak compromise of the two strong personal ones?
We organized a session with the founders, using images to identify what their company’s success looked like for them. When we had all the elements to this, we forced them to prioritize by helping them define a common message hierarchy in their corporate story: what was the key impact they wanted to create? And what were the supporting messages? To make their future direction more concrete, we asked them to map out the consequences of these choices for the type of people they would hire, the services they would develop, the reputation they wanted to have etc. By going through this process they were able to explain their ambitions to their people in such a way that it gave them clear direction.
Partnering with these ambitious founders made us realize once again that identifying your personal purpose is an important step in a strategic journey, but defining a shared purpose is even more crucial for your future success.
Have you discussed your personal purposes in your leadership team? And did you agree on a shared purpose?