Do you know why your company exists? The answer goes beyond your mission statement or your brand promise. While both of these are necessary, they don’t dig deep enough to answer the “why” question, and they won’t inspire your people or drive an engaged culture.
On today’s episode of Insights, we’re talking about purpose, the next step in learning to lead like a human. Along the way, you’ll meet Josh Driver, CEO and Co-founder of Selflessly, as he shares his passion and commitment to living out his company’s purpose.
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[00:00:00] welcome back to Lead Like a Human, the latest season of insights and original series by Emplify. I'm Nicole MacLean. And I'll be going on this journey with you. As we dig into Adam Weber's newest book, we'll lead like a human pretty creative bunch over here. Now, last week, we focused on centered this honing in on the importance of finding alignment with your values as a human and as a leader.
It's the foundational step on this journey and the key to building engaged and productive teams. It's not easy, but it will work. Before we jump into our next step. Just a quick reminder that you can get your own copy of lead, like a human by pre-ordering on Amazon now. All right. So on today's episode, we're tackling step two from the book align around your company purpose you'll of course hear from Adam, but you'll also get to meet Joshua Driver co founder and CEO of selflessly.
Josh joins us to share his perspective on purpose, which is rather fitting, considering that selflessly is a [00:01:00] virtual platform that helps leaders activate their purpose by operationalizing their corporate social responsibility programs. But more on that later, when I say purpose, what comes to mind for so many it's those inspirational posters that hang in conferences or on executives, walls, you know, the ones with an Eagle or a mountain with phrases like perseverance.
Or determination with an even pithier aspirational headline below it. I'm sure we've all seen them at some point in time in our careers. Now there's nothing wrong with an uplifting wall decor, but inspiring people. It takes more than motivational phrases on a poster. It all comes back to what this episode is about.
Why does your business truly exist? Why is your business needed in the world? Because there's a reality that if you're listening to this right now, there's someone else listening to this who's company does the exact same thing as yours. [00:02:00] So is there a pursuit that is bigger than just the thing that you do that explains the why, what you do is needed in the world as a reminder, that was our fearless leader.
Adam Webber. Now let me ask, do you know why your company exists? Its true purpose. This goes beyond the mission statement or your brand promise. And while both of these are necessary, they are not the definition of your purpose. For instance, a brand is the expectation that a customer can have when working with you, take Pepsi and Cola, for example, seemingly similar products.
No, I'm pretty biased to the polar bears. Yet there are differences in their company. Purpose Pepsi defines their purpose to create joyful moments. Whereas Coca-Cola aims to refresh the world. These two statements, differentiate the companies from each other. And if you think about the way they portray themselves in the market, you can easily see how their [00:03:00] expressions align with their stated purpose.
Now, once you've done the work to define your purpose, you can start the process of living. It seems fairly straightforward, right? Well sort of, but it's much harder than it seems. I asked Josh to share his company's purpose, to help provide a concrete example of how this plays out. The purpose our company is to not only be producing the latest and greatest technology to help increase and impact social responsibility, but we also should be demonstrating.
At our size, whether we're tiny or huge, the ways that a company can make even incremental steps that make a larger impact over time. And that's a little bit different than the culture in the office, but our purpose really is to inspire other companies to look at what roles. They can play [00:04:00] and making our communities better.
We really need to zoom out and show that all of our businesses have a purpose. In addition to what we do to make the world a better place. Notice how Josh goes beyond what they do to produce technology, to increase social responsibility and hone in on the why behind it, inspiring other companies to make their communities better.
Leveraging your company's purpose. Isn't a recent revelation for Josh. It's something that's been a primary driver or for how selflessly has operated from the beginning. When we decided to start the company extra time to make it a benefit corporation and a certified B Corp. And we did that. Not because it could be a marketing opportunity for us or a competitive advantage against our competitors.
We did it because it really sets the tone for what type of company we wanted to run. We really leveraged that infrastructure of a, B Corp [00:05:00] for our hiring, for our. Suppliers, what investment we wanted to take on who we wanted to have at the table, making decisions. Now let's pause for a second. I have a little bit of experience working with B Corp.
And let me tell you becoming one is not easy. For instance, in the state of Indiana where we're recording from, we have seven total in the entire state. Now, when you think of a B Corp, you can think of a company like Tom's strong mission, clear purpose, and a commitment into corporate social responsibility.
Plus you have to go through a rigorous process showing dedication to your employees, your community, having a diversity into your vendors, employees from all socioeconomic backgrounds and sound fiscal responsibility. Just to name a few. What I love about this is that for Josh, it isn't just another certification they can add to their website.
It's a way to truly live out and walk the talk as leaders. And he doesn't stop there as well. [00:06:00] Learning it's about going deeper and about tying business initiatives and objectives back to the purpose. And for Josh, that also means digging into the personal purpose of each employee. We've been going through these exercises internally, too on what's our internal voice.
And how does that resonate? And what we do with our employees is really trying to get to the bottom of what their purpose may be was beyond a Myers-Briggs or some of the surveys that are out there. Yeah. What do you want your personal purpose to be? For me, it's always my purpose as a person, as an entrepreneur, as a leader is to.
Figure out how to help as many people as possible, quite frankly, with whatever resources are privileged that I have notice how he says discovering goes beyond a survey. He takes real work to get to the bottom of that. Why question? Now in the book, Adam talks about a technique called the five whys. If you describe what your business does to a toddler, they'll probably [00:07:00] just stare back at you and ask why.
Repeatedly over and over again until you get to a simple statement that they can and understand. And while it may be frustrating, it is a useful tool for getting to the unique meaning that lies beneath your organization. And that is where you'll discover your company's true purpose. When we think about purpose, we have to understand its impact on the business.
What's the point of doing all of this work. If it's just going to become a dusty frame on a wall or stale copy on a website, the truth is leveraging your company's purpose. Can unlock employee engagement, especially in times of change and uncertainty, Josh shares how he sees the value of purpose impacting employees.
Everybody has some ownership in the company and they're making their Mark on the company and the way that they want to, even though the idea for selflessly was originally mine, we co-parent selflessly. And what selflessly looks like today is. [00:08:00] It's different than what my original idea was. And that's because we've been co-parenting this baby and working on it together versus in a vacuum and saying that this was my idea.
And everybody means to fall in line. And I like this kind of open source company for our employees has really helped people define what our purpose is of the company, but also their personal. Purpose and where our company intersects with that and can help expand their journey down that road of achieving purpose ownership.
That's a big word. When we see ownership lived out in an organization, it means employees are truly committed to the outcome of the company. They feel the impact they have on the success of the company, which in turn motivates them to bring their best selves to work every day. My promise to you this season and the motivation behind lead like a human is to empower you to become your best self so that you can be the leader of your team needs.
And [00:09:00] so with all of the contexts that Josh has provided, I wanted to ask Adam, why purpose made his shortlist for the six steps for building engaged teams? I think the reason I thought it needed to be one of the six steps is because it's something everyone knows is important, but most people are ignoring.
And yet when you look at employees today, like it's critical to them. It's one of the three most important qualities to an employee today that a company has a purpose that they view as valuable. And yet for the majority of companies, like the purpose is still just like a dusty phrase on, on a wall. I believe it matters.
It's not it's, there's nothing new here. But it's not being utilized. And there is, if you can tap into this, there's so much activation inside of your company. There's so much vibrancy that can happen by truly bringing this to life inside of your company. So if purpose is really one of the top three priorities for employees, why do so many companies fall short?
Or perhaps worse, give it lip service, do pithy one liners [00:10:00] and half-hearted initiatives. I know leaders don't intentionally ignore their purpose. Maybe it's feeling like you can't find the time to prioritize it, or simply a lack of knowledge, but either way let's do something about it. Shall we. I think the most critical way to do it is to make sure that whatever that purpose is that you have some way that you're sharing back to the employees, that purpose lived out of the wild, because your purpose has to be like, there have to be elements of it that are true, that are happening, that are existing.
And so how can we get those back in front of our employees, especially the employees who maybe aren't too close to it. They don't get to see the fruition of the purpose. And so maybe it's building some intentionality or a cadence around sharing those stories of your purpose lived out. There's nothing more impactful than letting your employees actually see the purpose, whether it's through video or actually bringing in a customer who they can meet and talk to somebody that just makes it tangible that these customers [00:11:00] or our work actually matters.
So maybe the bigger challenge rather than a tip is to answer this question. As a leader, what can I do to make our purpose field tangible today for our employees? Another one that I'm really interested in right now is, is I'm running a workshop and asking every employee to do this work themselves, to think critically on their own.
If we're trying to get them to think like owners or to create engaged teams, let's challenge them to do so and run a workshop and ask them the question. How does your role today, what you do every day? How does it tie to the purpose? And I think you'll get two benefits. I think the benefit is the obvious one, which is you'll help them do the work of connecting their own role and how it impacts the purpose.
But the other is, I think you might learn a little bit more about your employees and how they view their role and how they view the company and how it all ties to the purpose. The last practice, the little tip is just to name the milestones along the [00:12:00] way of living out your purpose and then celebrate those milestones along the way and just make a big deal of it.
Like we are making progress, look at what we're doing and then celebrate those milestones. One of the ways we do this here at amplify is to have customer facing teams share at least two customer stories at every quarterly meeting. This way, our internal teams can see how their work is making an impact in helping our company achieve its purpose.
We also make sure to define key milestones on the journey to achieving our purpose. And when we win, set aside intentional time to celebrate them internally, what type of milestones you might ask? From the very beginning of starting amplify. Our first like big milestone was we want 1 million employees to be impacted by Emplify.
And so we, we track every, the number of every single person who's ever taken. One of our assessments and we celebrate that number wildly. Like we have a ticker and it grows. And at [00:13:00] company meetings, you'll put up that number on where we are. We have these little Lego blocks, customized Lego blocks that we do for a variety of things, but different milestones, like key product releases or big one is that number as we're climbing to a million is when we hit a hundred thousand or 200 that like we're doing Lego blocks for each of those majors milestones.
And the benefit about doing that too, making a really clear, Hey, we're going for a million. How that plays out then? Unlike an individual scale is we had a sales rep who sold their million dollar. And we always hold a party for someone when they sell their first million at our company. And we have the team together and in his toast, I thought it was so striking to see, this is like, this is when it's working is when the employees are taking ownership of these ideas themselves.
So in his toast, he said, I love what we do. And I love our purpose. What I look, what I did, the math on this, these $1 million that I've sold and what I'm most proud of. Is [00:14:00] that was over 40,000 employees who were able to experience a better work environment and a more engaged way to do work because of Emplify.
And so it's really tangible even at the employee level. And I think that's when you know, it's working is when the employees are taking personal ownership over those company-wide milestones. I hope you realize that your company's purpose can't be something left, loosely defined or worse forgotten. It has to be ingrained into the culture of the organization.
Adam describes it best. Your purpose should inspire the head, ignite the heart so that the hands can get to work. My favorite example of the head heart hand interplay is the story of president John F. Kennedy at the NASA campus. While he was touring, he stopped and asked the janitor, what do you do here?
And the janitors simply replied. Mr president, I'm helping put a man on the moon. So here's the takeaway of the episode as a manager and a leader, it should be your goal to help every employee see how their work [00:15:00] is accomplishing your company's purpose, taking a phrase and truly living it out. Now that we have the why under our belts next week, we'll be talking all about the how, and if you want to dive deeper into any of the content from the season, be sure to preorder your copy of lead, like a human available on Amazon now.