Lisa McLeod

What happens when the money spigot is suddenly turned off? I’m observing two very different realities these days.

When a people believe their only purpose is to make and produce money, the moment the money is threatened, it rips the rug right out from under them. A purpose bigger than money gives you something concrete to act upon during challenging times. This plays out individually and organizationally.

An organization that defines itself on its weekly (or daily) revenue reports doesn’t have a way to ground its people. When revenue falters, people panic, they run around making bad decisions, trying to prop up the one thing they’ve been told is most important, the money.

Compare that with an organization whose team knows its true and noble purpose is to serve its customers. They have something tangible and real to focus on. When your true North is serving others, it doesn’t go away during a crisis; it becomes even more important.

During a time of uncertainty and challenge, people and organizations change. A crisis speeds up the inevitable. No one stays the same, people and organizations either emerge stronger or weaker. Here’s how it plays out.

When the North Star is money:

♦ Crisis hits, money declines: Oh no, our purpose is at risk!

♦ Everyone scrambles around trying to shore up the money.

♦ Leaders start to panic, the team panics.

♦ Customers feel the pressure and angst.

♦ The team starts to believe all our leaders care about is money.

Morale declines, customer trust erodes.

When the crisis is over, you’re left with a transactional organization, dispirited employees and a tenuous customer base. The organization is weaker than before the crisis. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s the alternative:

When your Noble Purpose is to improve life for customers:

♦ Crisis hits: Reset to purpose, remind each other why we’re here.

♦ Leaders ask how can we support our customers and each other?

♦ Team rallies together to help customers.

♦ Customers see the commitment.

♦ The team believes our organization makes a difference to customers.♦

♦ Th♦ e team is bonded to each other, customers feel connected to organization.

A crisis hits everyone. How you handle it will define your organization and your personal leadership going forward. Grounding yourself and your team in a purpose bigger than money impacts will help you drive:

Organization growth

Post recession, firms with a purpose bigger than money wound up out performing the market by more than 350% (Research from Jim Stengel-Grow).

Most of these firms didn’t drive exponential revenue growth during the recession. When orders were scarce they doubled down on their purpose, which drove employee engagement, competitive differentiation, and customer loyalty. Employees thinking, ‘How can we use our offering to better help our customers ?’ are more innovative than employees thinking, ‘How can I save myself?’ When the market began to grow, they got more than their share because their team and customers knew. We help customers.

Personal confidence

When people define themselves by money, they lose their center very quickly when the money goes away. In a crisis, the best way to build confidence is to focus on others. Helping your team and customers makes you part of something bigger than yourself.

Your net worth is not your self worth. In times of challenge, reset yourself and your team towards your purpose. It might not help you make more money in the moment, but it will most certainly help you be more successful in the future.

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Lisa McLeod is the author of the best-sellers “Selling with Noble Purpose” and “Leading with Noble Purpose.”

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