Lead with purpose and strategy

September 2, 2014

I have read a few articles recently that stuck a chord with me on how to lead with purpose and strategy.


The articles 

The first, by Glenn LLopis at Forbes,, suggested Lack of Clarity of Purpose was one of six reasons leaders make bad decisions.

The other was research by Cranfield School of Management, . It suggests too many business owners spend their time meddling in other people’s work, working on the shop-floor or being the hero who runs one of the key functions.  Too few are strategists setting a vision and strategy to grow the business and motivate employees.

So why is this important?  

Because it leads to several consequences:

  • businesses are under-performing on sales and profit;
  • staff are under-engaged so give less to the business and have less positivity in their work life.

What could a boss do to turn this round?  My top tip is to put some effort into getting clarity of purpose and co-create it with all the workforce.

Practical route to clarity of purpose and strategy

As the owner / manager, spend some time either with your fellow directors, mentor or good friend and write down in simple language what your business is all about. Define its purpose and where you’d like it to be in the future – say, a 3 year vision and strategy.

Relay those messages to your staff, maybe a representative group to begin with. Perhaps in a structured workshop, that aims to reinforce and build on your concept of the future. Be prepared for debate, but see this as people identifying and getting behind the idea. It’s a good idea to use an external facilitator with a proven process so that you can play an active part in the workshop yourself.  A flavour of such a workshop is at

Take the output from that workshop and share it with the whole staff again, be prepared to discuss it and receive feedback.  Everyone’s contribution should then be consolidated into a clear definition of the vision, strategy and culture of the business – call this building the “Ways of Working”.

Once the whole workforce has heard about the organisation’s purpose and vision encourage staff to debate how that purpose and vision will be applied within their team. A natural by-product of those sessions will be action plans to improve how the teams work towards achieving the company vision and promoting the company culture.

Taking each of these steps will generate ongoing engagement with the staff and ideas for improvement will start to appear. However, be prepared to elaborate and receive feedback as your staff seek to understand what the vision and culture really mean for them and how they can contribute.

If this effort and commitment seems daunting then ask yourself this question, ”if my staff could care about the business like I do, would my business be more successful?”