Why do you do what you do?
Whenever I ask people this question, I am always intrigued by the myriad of responses that I get. While some can easily and concisely articulate a response, others cannot.
We all have a motivation, whether or not we can state that motive. The most successful people I know have a good understanding of why they do what they do. The same can be said of teams–the most successful teams have a clear understanding of why they are a team, why they exist, what they are trying to accomplish, and what the shared vision of the future might be.
Let’s look at a few ways we can be clear on our Powerful Purpose:
- Common vision/goals: Is there a common vision/purpose and can everyone on the team clearly define and communicate it? Does everyone know where the team is heading? A purpose/vision/mission statement is a critical place to start in your pursuit of a Powerful Purpose. A clear, well-articulated, and easily remembered statement can galvanize your team and serve as an anchor.
- Clear roles: Do you and the others members of your team know your respective roles? Do you know how you contribute to your team’s purpose? Do the other members of your team? Each person needs to know the part they play in the overall vision. Without understanding their unique places, team members can struggle to connect their daily work to the big picture.
- Contribution: Does each member of your team offer meaningful contributions? You may expect to help the team reach its goals, but does everyone on your team feel the same way? Do you have anyone who is “coasting”? Each person must come to the table with an expectation to participate and contribute to the overall team goal.
- Leadership: Are leaders consistently guiding team members back to their purpose? Once the purpose is clear, leadership is needed to keep the team focused on the goal.
As leaders, we hold the great responsibility to keep our purpose at the center of our focus. This exercise may help in this regard; I call it the “Leaky-Bucket Principle”. Picture a large bucket that has a small crack near the bottom. You can initially fill the bucket up with water and it appears to hold. Slowly over time the water begins to leak out, and you end up with an empty bucket and a mess on the floor! A clear purpose works much the same way. Initially, you can focus your team on the purpose/vision/goal you want to achieve, but over time and long days of hard work the excitement and focus can fade. As the leader you must continue to fill up the bucket!
Leaders lead the way; make sure your destination is clearly communicated and that you continually stay the course!