In a post- command-and-control management era, the source of shareholder value is the energy and motivation of a company’s employees and the positive engagement of all of its stakeholders. In his new book ‘People with Purpose’ Kevin Murray shows how purpose can be used to inspire leadership, motivation and engagement and ultimately to create shareholder value.
Murray, previously Communications Director at British Airways and the Chairman of the UK’s largest PR group, has interviewed numerous CEOs and senior leaders to understand the dynamics of purpose and how it has been and can be harnessed and communicated to inspire organizational performance.
The book opens with an observation from neuroscience that having a sense of purpose and belonging, being respected, and feeling worthy changes our brain chemistry and fosters positivity in the way we approach life and the challenges we face. The obvious management corollary to this is that by making employees feel a sense of common purpose through effective communication leaders can increase performance.
Leadership and communication are key. Leaders need first of all to walk-the-walk; unless they are inspired themselves, they will not inspire their team. In the chapter ‘Define Your Own Purpose’, Murray describes perfect purpose as the “overlap between doing something you love, doing something the world needs, doing something you are great at, and doing something you are paid for.” He gives insight into how people can release their personal passion to get near to this perfection, and shows how finding purpose will empower them as authentic and courageous leaders.
Unsurprisingly as the author of two previous books on leadership communication, Murray is very strong on the need for effective communication to spread a sense of purpose through the organization. When a leader’s personal sense of purpose is aligned with the purpose of the organization he or she then needs the emotional intelligence to find the right words, and build the right relationships to communicate their vision. Again, Murray provides valuable advice with his “12 principles of inspiring leadership communication.”
At the book’s core Murray discusses, with many examples, how organizations with purpose can outperform the norm. He explains the importance of corporate values and culture and how doing something for others which connects with the head and the heart matters. He shows how by setting audacious goals, and championing a “drive to thrive” rather than just survive, organizations can tap into the innate desire people have to work with and for a purpose and this unleashes a formidable power for success and competitive advantage.
The book looks at the bad management practices that hold back purposeful business cultures. It also considers positive forces such as the ‘purpose movement’ that promotes social business and the growing move towards judging companies based on their wider purpose, using ‘integrated reporting’ which allows company assessments to include intangible assets such as leadership, employee engagement, customer relationships and reputation – assets that are greatly influenced by purpose.