How to Get Clear on Your Core Purpose + Core Values

If I were to describe what our company culture was like when I first started, I would describe it as inconsistent.

Organizationally, we lacked focus and alignment. Team members had differing opinions about what they felt was important, and as a leader, I was inconsistent in regards to what behaviors and attitudes were recognized and rewarded in the workplace.

As a result, a feeling of tension simmered under the surface. Occasionally, this sense of tension would manifest in conflict and misunderstandings – costing the company a significant amount of time, money, energy, resources and sanity.

I realized, if we were going to turn things around and build a high-performing, people-focused culture we’d need to do 2 things:

1. Get super clear on the reason WHY our company exists.

2. Get super clear on what attitudes and behaviors should be expected (and rewarded) in the workplace.

With this ambitious goal in mind, we set out to get clear on the reason WHY our company exists by identifying our Core Purpose.

As Simon Sinek explained in his popular TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, the most innovative companies start with their WHY (Core Purpose) and use it to drive WHAT they do (strategy) and HOW they do it (execution).

As we worked through identifying our Core Purpose (link to worksheet), we discovered we needed to look beyond financial goals in order to discover our true purpose.

Our WHY needed to be something like a cause, an inspired purpose, or a deep seeded belief. It needed to make us want to jump out of bed each day.

When you go through this exercise yourself, keep in mind it is totally a-okay if your Core Purpose is wide or narrow in focus or scope. Your Core Purpose could aim to help people achieve something specific, solve a particular problem, challenge the status quo, or even make the world a better place.

For us, thinking about our Core Purpose on a spiritual or philosophical level helped tremendously.

At the end of the exercise, we discovered that our Core Purpose was to: “make the world a friendlier and more connected place by transforming inbound business calls into positive and meaningful experiences”

Once we understood our Core Purpose, we immediately shared it with everyone in the company.

The feedback from the team was phenomenal.

I had people stopping by my office to tell me they were genuinely excited to come to work, and that they now had a better understanding of the type of company we were trying to build and how their performance directly impacted the success of the organization. Talk about a major WIN!

By connecting our WHY to a higher purpose, the team began viewing their work as something that was more than a job – they began seeing it as something with meaning.

Just as our team had an innate desire to understand our Core Purpose, team members began expressing a desire to better understand what types of attitudes and behaviors should be expected in the workplace.

Naturally, we set out to continue the positive momentum by identifying our Core Values (link to another worksheet).

In order to begin brainstorming ideas for our Core Values, we requested input from every single team member and asked them to put together a list of the best qualities that they saw in other coworkers.

After a week or so of enlightening and engaging discussion, we selected 7 Core Values that would serve as the foundation for how we would conduct ourselves and perform our work.

The 7 Core Values the team came up with are as follows:

+ It’s ALL about People
+ Spread Goodwill
+ Bring Your Best
+ Commit to Excellence
+ Embrace Teamwork
+ Learn from Yesterday
+ Think (and Dream) Big

Core Values loud and proud

Once I read the final list, I knew we discovered the right Core Values because it made me feel inspired and gave me goosebumps all at the same time.

In an ever changing business environment, these Core Values would remain constant and be amplified in everything we do, serving as a basis for sound decision-making.

When we introduced our Core Purpose and Core Values, not only did they form the foundation of our company culture, but they represented the two greatest tools we had for steering our culture in the right direction.

As the weeks moved on and the team began to embrace (and demonstrate) our Core Values, the sense of tension that once boiled under the surface began to disappear, and in its place, a sense of purpose, positivity, and enthusiasm began to grow.

Little did we know that this sense of culture-stoke would grow, ripple through the company and put us on a path of growth that would exceed all expectations.

Take the first step in building a world-class culture and the business of your dreams by identifying your Core Purpose and your Core Values and sharing them with your team.

Once your team is in the know, it’s time to turbocharge things further by fostering trust through effective communication.

We will tackle this next week!

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