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Bringing purpose to life

Exploring embedding purpose in an organisation

The phrase ’embedding purpose’ is often used by people and we sometimes find ourselves using it too. But it’s interesting to explore what assumptions may be implicit when people use this phrase. It may carry with it the idea that you are taking something external and inserting it or forcing it into the organisation or people in a top-down mentality, with the underlying thought that it was not there already so has to be brought in from outside.

Our starting point is that most people have the latent potential to find themselves more intrinsically motivated – wanting to be a valued member of a winning team on a worthwhile mission. Key to unleashing the latent potential in the organisation is creating the conditions favourable for people to commit to the organisation’s purpose. It’s not about doing things to people but being with and alongside.

So rather than making people be purpose-led, a point to make in response to questions like this is the importance of how leaders show up, and what could they do differently as leaders to create the conditions to inspire colleagues to be purpose-led through their own actions and commitments.

Questions to explore could include:

  • What intentions and assumptions about people will underpin your approach?
  • How will you create an organisation that is worthy of people’s commitment?
  • Purpose-led leadership is the capacity of a human community to shape their future in service of the common good. To what extent can all people in the firm shape this future?
  • How will your approach to purpose feel different and why?
  • What would you like to avoid?
  • How will we hold ourselves accountable?

For further exploration see:  A purpose-led culture