Purpose Drives People

Let’s explore the Purpose Drives Impact Framework further, this time focusing on Purpose Drives People.

First a quick review of Purpose Drives Impact. We start with purpose and use that purpose to drive impact (with action). This action looks like People Executing Strategy.
Purpose Drives Impact Framework.003
To dig deeper into the People area, let’s frame it this way, as Purpose Driving People:
Purpose Drives Impact Framework 4 people
As we think about People, Purpose takes on several roles.

  • When a business (or an organization) has a purpose larger than itself, that purpose (you may call it your mission, but I think purpose is more accurate) is the essential tool that the marketing or HR departments use in recruiting (Yes, recruiting is a marketing function, wherever it lives in your company.). This is why non-profits can get away with lower levels of compensation. Their people are passionate about the cause. I’m not at all suggesting you reduce compensation. Instead, you can get a much higher level of productivity from your people if they are as motivated as you are by your purpose.
  • In addition to purpose, core values play a big role in hiring and retaining the exact right kinds of people for your company. If you’ve ever flown Southwest Airlines, for example, you’ve found that their flight attendants use a lot more humor than you find on any other airline. They don’t train for humor, they hire for it. (As an aside, I won’t fly Southwest because I find the boarding process and lack of seat assignments extremely annoying and stressful. I also prefer to be able to compare flight options across all in one place, and I cannot do that with Southwest, but this simply means that I am not their core customer. They’re not trying to win my business, and that’s perfectly okay.)
  • One lens to use when thinking about people is that of culture. Culture is how we interact with one another. It is not what we do, but how we do it. Every company has a culture, whether its leaders have ever thought about it or not. When you’re intentional about your culture, that culture can reinforce your purpose. For example, one of Whole Foods’ purposes (the fact that they have more than one is a topic for another article) is “to improve world health.” To reinforce this in their culture, they need to hire people with healthy eating habits and continually support those habits. Many companies give employee discounts, but in the case of Whole Foods, doing so is actually aligned with their purpose to improve world health.
  • Another aspect of people is leadership. Without purpose, how do you motivate employees? How do you get the most from your front line employees and your leaders? With money? There is ample research showing that money is nice, but doesn’t ultimately motivate employees. Yes, it does help get the minimal level of effort, so you’d best not eliminate employee compensation, but if you want your employees to choose to give you their discretionary effort, you’d best pay attention to what Dan Pink calls autonomy, mastery and purpose. When your team members are motivated by purpose (which they will be if your purpose is alive and you hired them with that purpose in mind!), they require much less direction. They want to contribute more and they will figure out what to do. This means they don’t need to be managed. Your leaders are then free to remove barriers, help people find more rewarding roles, and overall pay more attention to where we are going than to the minutia of what folks are doing day to day.

See also: Purpose Drives Strategy, Purpose Drives Execution

And remember, this purpose drives people arrow is only part of the story. To produce impact, your people need to take actions. When your people and culture are aligned with your purpose, you (collectively) will be able to produce much greater impact.

See also:


I free up entrepreneurs for greater impact. Day to day demands of your growing business will sap your energy and blunt your effectiveness. Together we can work to reduce demands by up to 80% while moving more quickly in the direction of your purpose.

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