Humans have spent centuries searching for meaning — it’s an innate human quality to want to understand where & why you fit in to the world.
In 1946 psychiatrist Viktor Frankl wrote “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
Fast forward to 2009 and Simon Sinek writes “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
So if you want your human employees to drive your business then it stands to reason to ask — what do they believe about your business & is that what you & your leadership team believe.
If I had to put money on it I would be prepared to say there is a huge disconnect between the two answers.
Firstly a belief is not reciting the vision & mission or the annual financial targets — it comes from your good old reptilian brain — it is a reason for being & doing.
“For some of our most important beliefs, we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold these beliefs. Considering how little we know, the confidence we have in our beliefs is preposterous — and it is also essential.”
2002 Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman
When a company is run by the founder or visionary this purpose or belief system is inherent — you do not need to create a poster to explain it to your employees. That person will intrinsically represent the vision, mission & values. The “why” will come across in all of their actions & the “how” of the company will be closely aligned to their personal values. That organisation will not need a talent strategy because the person at the helm will attract members of his or her tribe — people who share a common belief system.
When the life cycle of the organisation changes, for whatever reason (the visionary leaves or the business scales too quickly), that person’s purpose & values have to be defined otherwise they will ultimately disappear. If they are not clearly defined the new leadership team will lead your organisation towards their own set of beliefs and values.
So back to humans. If humans are purpose driven & you want a belief system to ensure continuity then your organisations’ purpose or belief system needs to be greater than any single person within that organisation. The most effective succession plan you can have is to ensure that everyone within your organisation believes in your purpose and values.
If you can achieve this then you will be able to navigate this volatile era of disruption. Your team will have a reason to embrace change — enter new markets, change your product lines, change your skills profiles but will be able to navigate the changes — guided by your purpose & values.
As published on Medium