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How leaders create align personal goals with business purpose to achieve a results based culture

Yesterday I met with a CEO of a national brand. She had just completed her interview with Investors in People assessors and was hoping to maintain gold status.
 
One of the questions that was asked left her curious and unable to answer.
 
 
 

"How can you demonstrate that you have a culture where people put aside their own personal wants, needs and priorities to deliver the priorities of the business?"

Basically how can you demonstrate that your people willing take one for the team?
 
This is a topic that comes up a lot when discussing the five behaviours of a cohesive team programme but it was challenging for me to clearly answer the question with real examples and evidence.

It is rare that leaders or peers put aside their own personal goals or functional priorities and to step up to look with their business head on.
For this to happen the leaders need to be clear on the business priorities, challenges and to commit to leading the business towards success.
 
This means fighting against the desire to empire build or ensure your team excels at the cost of another team. The personal sacrifice for the greater good is about putting the business needs first.
 
In a world where business is focused on performance and annual objectives, we focus only on our own goals to survive. Sacrificing individual goals for business goals isn't what we have been trained to do.
 
I ask teams what are the top five priorities out of their maybe 20 KPIs for the business. Immediately, they start looking to the leader to pick those five priorities because there is a lack of trust or challenge and they don't want to appear selfish in putting their own needs first.
 

That is the starting point though. To be able to have an open conversation and debate about what the top priorities are and why your departments priorities are equal, or more important than another allows all opinions and perspectives to be on the table and enables the leader to make an informed decision.
 
But only after there has been open dialogue.
 
Once the decision has been made, the leader needs to create commitment through Buy-in. And it is easier than you think.
 
When everyone has weighed in they are more likely to buy in. The leader must make it clear what the key focus is and then asks their team what they are willing to do or sacrifice in order to achieve.
 
In practice it looks like somebody in your team willingly staying behind after hours, or putting a side a piece of work to focus on a greater goal.
 
it may be somebody's offering to get in their car and go and fix an issue in other parts of the country. Because they know that that is more important right now for the business, than the work that they have been working on.
 
It means taking personal time from their loved ones or their friends and their family. But they're willing to make that personal sacrifice because they believe in the priorities, the purpose the mission of the business.
 
Now, if you are ask somebody to give up their time or change priorities, and they do so, but unwillingly, then that is not what we are discussing here.
 
That is command and control. That is fear based and eventually they will resent you for it. When somebody is prepared to put aside their own personal needs for the greater good then you have created a culture based on trust, no blame, commitment and a meaningful work.

We don't want to see everybody doing 100 hours a week like Elon Musk. He does that because he chooses to follow his purpose and his mission. But if he has inspire his people around his vision and mission then when needed his people step up and deliver.
 
You need to connect with your people on an individual level to understand what is their purpose and how does that align to the business purpose.
 
There are only so many hours in a week and so many resources available at any time. When you get all of your people willingly putting aside their day to day personal goals to focus on the overall business goal and still achieve fulfillment and meaning then you know, you have cracked your culture.

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