Leadership: The Connection Between Purpose and Culture

By Nicole Bendaly

In high performance organizations, people know that culture doesn’t happen to them, it is created by them – as a result, every member of the team will actively take responsibility for crafting culture in alignment with the organization’s purpose and values every day. However, culture is most greatly influenced by an organization’s leaders.

Leaders serve as role models for what is expected in the organization. They are an organization’s culture carriers and it’s essential that they work to connect their people to culture and to meaningful purpose by coaching, empowering, developing, and inspiring their people to create culture every day – and that they ensure their teams feel valued and included by doing so.

An increased focus on open, transparent communication at the leadership level

Organizations have experienced more disconnection over the past years due to hybrid or remote work, and so there has been more intention on creating connection through communications, vulnerability, transparency, and two-way dialogue. There is also more focus on balance and wellbeing, with leaders role modelling wellbeing and being more open with their own struggles and how they manage balance and wellbeing in their lives.

But leaders’ shoulders today need to be broad, as they take on the challenge of balancing individual, team, and organizational needs and priorities. Some questions high-performance leaders are struggling with today include:

  1. Am I doing enough to support my people, to engage and inspire them?
    They are challenged with driving growth and performance of the organization in an ever-changing, disconnected world, and in an environment where candidates are making choices on meaning, purpose, culture. That’s keeping leaders up at night.
  2. How do I balance the tension between a people-first culture and organizational performance?
    Leaders are struggling to lead with empathy, ensure flexibility, and provide a meaningful experience, while driving for performance and accountability. They are struggling to figure out that balance.
  3. Is my team prepared for the uncertainty, challenges, and change ahead?
    Leaders are struggling to manage the ongoing changes that are happening as a result of the pandemic, hybrid and work from home, and more, while also preparing their teams for what’s next.
  4. Is my work fulfilling enough for me and am I able to continue to grow here in a meaningful way?
    Leaders are seeking alignment between their individual purpose and the purpose of the organization, and they’re seeking growth and fulfillment in their jobs – and if they aren’t finding that then, just like the members of their team, they are considering their options and looking at other avenues that may provide that connection and growth.

There’s a talent crisis, in particular in leadership roles.  Not everyone is built for, or interested in, being a leader. Organizations need to be intentionally building bench strength at every level of the organization – from project leaders, to people leaders, to organizational leaders. They need to be looking at the talent pipeline from a broader, more diverse perspective, and having more urgency around developing leaders for the future.

Most importantly, leaders today must become talent nurturers.  Leaders are the ones – whether they are current, future, or emerging leaders – who connect culture and purpose and support everyone in building a high-performance culture.

At the Waterstone Culture Institute, we help teams and leaders develop the motivation, skills, and behaviours needed to drive culture change using research-based development programs, and a proven culture transformation process called the Waterstone Culturepreneur Operating System. Schedule a meeting with our team today and learn how we can help you meet your people and culture goals.