Leading with Noble Purpose

“As a Noble Purpose leader, you must believe that your business adds value to the world, and that you deserve to get paid for it.”

- Leading with Noble Purpose, page 186

Workplace engagement is shrinking and has reached epidemic proportions. Gallop’s statistics show that 51% of people are not actively engaged in their work and a further 17% are actively disengaged. In her second book, Lisa Earle McLeod gives a blueprint for leaders to stop leading with a superficial, money-based bias and instead adopt more compelling strategies to instill a “Noble” sense of purpose in their business. The author not only uses reasoning and statistical evidence to support her findings but, more importantly, provides a step-by-step guide to implement a Noble engagement within your business DNA that will resonate with your employees and reignite your profits. This is achieved by focusing on how your work impacts and delights your clients rather than focusing on financial goals. FInancial goals are important to be sure, but focusing on your organization’s noble purpose will inspire employee and customer engagement, which will inevitably result in better financial performance.

Leading with Noble Purpose offers a revolutionary business growth strategy and a plea for business leaders to adapt a different paradigm—to bring meaning and purpose back into the workplace.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Write a Noble Sales Purpose (NSP) Statement

"You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t even have to be charismatic. You simply have to give people a cause worth caring about."
- Leading with Noble Purpose, page 33

How would you answer this question from a stranger: Can you tell me about when you made difference to someone at work?

The answer will vary for different people but consider these two possibilities:

I work for the most amazing company. I make people around the world feel like they’re part of something amazing. Last week we located the owner of a lost dog and returned him to the ecstatic owner, it was the most amazing experience, that is what we do, make our customers delighted. Or: I’m an accountant, we do people’s taxes; or, I’m in sales, working with medical supplies. It’s a bit of a drag.

Which companies would you want to work for? When did you last speak of your company in a passionate way, and do your colleagues have the same enthusiasm?

To elicit passion and enthusiasm from employees and customers, leaders must make a choice between a money story and a meaning story. The meaning story means changing the narrative around the business—this is your Noble Purpose, or, as Simon Sinek describes, your “why”—which is the starting point to generating a band of true believers. This purpose within the organization flows through to innovation, systems and process improvement, and ultimately, to financial success. Noble leadership starts with you as the leader: you have to be clear about your own beliefs and mindset and be passionate about your story.

Your noble sales purpose (NSP) is a succinct statement that describes your purpose as a company.

  • Noble- It’s in the service of others,
  • Sales- It’s based on what you sell, and
  • Purpose- It’s your end game.

Developing your NSP statement requires a rigorous conversation with your team, and your customers, starting with three discovery questions:

  • How do we make a difference to our customers?
  • How do we it differently than our competition?
  • On your best day, what do you love about your job?

Make this a conceptual brainstorming session and go beyond simple things: think about how you can help your customers sleep better at night. What makes you stand out from your competition? Do your employees care more about their mission and customers? What do you do to generate emotional value for your staff and customers? You need robust discussions around these key questions: use personal stories and examples, and reflect on the value you provide to your customers. Finally, begin your NSP statement with the word “we,” to embrace a communal sense of purpose.

Here are two excellent examples of NSP statements:

  • Flight Centre: We care about delivering amazing travel experiences.
  • PharMEDium: We advance patient safety and provide peace of mind.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Stay On Track During Stressful Situations

"When you stay true to yourself and your purpose, you stay pointed in the right direction."
- Leading with Noble Purpose, page 184

Behavior under stressful times is often reactive and left to chance alone, often with disastrous results. Imagine an employee makes a critical error and you react badly, chastising the employee in front of their peers. This potentially has long term repercussions and will affect that employee’s future performance, as well as establish a reputation among the rest of your team about your behavior under duress.

What if there was a means of predicting future behavioral patterns?

McLeod illustrates a technique founded by her client Kurtis Kammerer, termed the “pre-decision model,” and based around future decision making. Here is an example: imagine you ask your teenage son, how would you describe yourself? He responds by describing himself as an honest person, with strength of character, and good values. Next, direct the conversation to likely scenarios for a teenage boy to encounter: offers of drugs and sex, or observing poor behavior by his peers. How will he react based on the values he described? Walk through scenarios and write down your son’s decisions, so that he will know how to behave when confronted with those situations.

Kammerer developed a similar agenda for his trainees. There will be times when you don’t like your job, you will be mad at your boss, etc. How are going to react? Write down the responses. This model gives you and your team a means of predicting behavior before the reactive behavior occurs, since you have already decided how you are going to behave.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Yes, AND

"A Leader who embraces Yes AND creates the condition for excellence."
- Leading with Noble Purpose, page 133

Negativity is endemic and unfortunately built into our primitive brains. The amygdala is always on the defensive, looking out for danger even if that danger is only to your ego. A threat is taken as a threat and adopting a defensive position is all too common in personal and business relationships.

Consider the following scenario: a leader is discussing the move to a noble purpose and some responses include: “Yes, purpose is great, but we still have to make money,” or, “Yes, customers are critical, but so are our shareholders.

These are referred to as “Yes, But” statements and the author suggests reframing these statements into Yes, AND statements. Clients of the author instituted the yes, AND rule within their meeting structures, to generate more positive statements such as; “Yes, purpose is great AND we will be more attractive to other potential clients.” This simple exercise shifted the groups thinking into a more positive vein and moved away from the dreaded destructive negative reactions.

Lisa Earle McLeod gives us the tools to start Leading with Noble Purpose in our organizations in this compelling business classic. The final chapters outline implementation of your noble purpose in a detailed and intricate way to ensure that your purpose is embedded into your company’s DNA and culture.

Are you leading with a noble purpose?

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Peter Taylor

ABOUT Peter Taylor

I have owned and managed a veterinary based business on the west coast of Australia for 18 years. No one at Veterinary school gives us any clues about running a business and it is only in the last few years that I have started to study business and management...
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