We are undoubtedly in the age of purpose. In the era where purpose and financial results are not at odds with each other, but on the contrary, purpose is the path to better financial results. It is proven that those companies that focus on employees, customers, communities and the environment have a better financial performance. better return for its shareholders. So what is it and how can we activating purpose in a company?
What is the purpose of a company?
It is authentic commitment. When we talk about purpose, we go far beyond an inspirational phrase, an inspiring phrase, a claim marketing campaign or a headline in a press release. When we talk about purpose we are talking about a commitment that has to be genuine.
The purpose is to the raison d'être of a company. That which helps to solve a social and environmental problem while creating financial value for the company itself.
It is intrinsically linked to what the company does in a differential way by focussing on the "what for"The mission (the what), the vision (how far) and the values (how).
The key is its activation, not its definition
In order for the purpose to be a real lever for the improving financial performanceThe key is not in its definition but in its activation. How the company is able to incorporate this purpose in its business strategy, in its products and services, in its culture, in its processes, in its relationship with its suppliers and in the communities where it is present.
To be activated by the leader
And this is where the link between the purpose with leadership. A good leader is essential for the purpose to evolve from a phrase to action and to become embedded in the heart of a company.
Such a leader must first of all understand the opportunity to "professionaliseThe company has to be able to "make this purpose a reality" and to act with conviction and courage for its implementation and activation in the company. And as part of that professionalisation, measurement is key.
Leadership with purpose in the case of Unilever
In this line, and to achieve this, Polman was able to break with the internal dynamics of your company. So much so that on his first day as CEO, and with the aim of avoiding short-termism, he announced that he would no longer issue quarterly share guides or reports. As controversial as this move may have been, by the end of his tenure, Unilever generated a return for its shareholders of 290%.
Purpose is still a way to go for many companies, and there is no doubt that in the post-COVID 19 era the purposeful leadership will be more important than ever.