Giving your team their ‘Why’

Helping your team find the purpose to their work creates an energised and committed team

Who will go above and beyond for their customers and the business. Don’t believe me? Remember, many wars have been fought and sacrifices made because people believed in something – your role as a leader is to help your people understand their purpose and feel connected to it.

Give their work purpose.

And if you’re not sure how to do this, as a business mentor I’m always happy to help.


What is your ‘Why’?  

As a business mentor I’m often asked, ‘what is the difference between a good and a great leader and manager?’ There are a number of factors, such as:


  • Great communication skills (including transparency)
  • Being trustworthy
  • Leading by example
  • Being authentic
  • Being consistent
  • Demonstrating Situational Leadership skills
  • The ability to make tough decisions


These are a few of the characteristics of a good leader, but what elevates a team to achieve beyond what they believed they were capable of, to move beyond the ‘motivation by pay check’ and truly feel they are making a difference?


The key is to help they find their ‘Why?’

Or simply put, create a purpose driven team or business. So, what does this mean? Well, people go to work for several reasons – these include financial (we all need money), social (you like your colleagues and it’s a fun place to work) and habit (been here for years…and it’s safe). This feeds into the old theory that staff were at work to do minimal effort for their pay, therefore they needed to be closely managed to get any results out of them.


This approach became a self-fulfilling prophecy – in my role as a business mentor and previously in the corporate world I have often seen if people are micromanaged all creativity and discretionary effort (going above and beyond) is stifled, and the team become what you imagine they would be…in short unmotivated, lacking effort and creativity and eventually clock watching. The bad news is, as the leader, this is your fault.


So, what do great leaders do?

They believe that the majority of people want to do a good job, and to help facilitate this help their people understand the purpose of the work they do, the difference it makes to their customers, their colleagues and the business. They help their people to recognise their ‘Why?’.


There’s a great story that illustrates this about a janitor that John F Kennedy ran into at Nasa in 1962. When the president asked him what he was doing, the man said: “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” This man understood the value of his work, and the impact on the wider goal.


Giving your people their ‘why’ – reflect on your business and think ‘is this just a job or do my people have a purpose?’. And if you’re not sure how to do this and get the maximum benefit from this, I’m always happy to have a chat about it.


Jim Gorrie

Director & Business Mentor

Kent & Surrounding Areas


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