If you read the headline of this blog, you might be saying to yourself, how do self-interest, altruism, and belonging have to do with a winning organization? Hang on there and let me explain. Let’s first talk about self-interest. We are all self-interested and live in a consumer-driven, entitled, thin-skinned, self-indulgent, immediate gratification society that largely revolves around making money and how that money can feed our aforementioned ego-based appetites. Sorry friends, we all like shiny things, so get over yourself, and stop judging because 99.99% of us aren’t above materialism at some level. Especially the ones who say their above materialism!
What about altruism? As much as we are all coin-operated bottom feeders, we also want purpose in our lives. We want to be part of something that is good, with a purpose we believe in, and for our work to have some positive impact on society. If we can make money and have meaningful work, then boom, we feel satisfied, at least for a while. If you doubt me, consider how SEAL teams, Apple, Tesla, SpaceX, Zappos, Amazon, and the scientists making COVID vaccines use mission/purpose to get people to work incredibly long hours, for long periods of time against long odds of success. I’m not saying that everyone has the same level of desire for money and altruism, but I am saying that both of those appetites exist in all of us to some degree, and the more itches we can scratch the more meaning and commitment we work with.
If our work culture provides us with the feeling belonging to tribe/family we trust, with a positive and meaningful purpose, and a feeling being individually accepted, we’ve added multiple layers of commitment to our effort. A Harvard study of over 200 companies found that companies with strong purpose-driven cultures increased net income 756 percent over eleven years. Stop! Don’t go into the office and circulate that mission statement you don’t believe in or start talking about your great culture everybody knows is bullshit. You will only create more cynicism. All those organizations mentioned above, consistently live, promote, and defend their mission and values against all internal and external threats because to them their purpose is real and their values matter! If you want to develop a purpose-driven organization, you need to understand it’s a lifestyle, not a marketing slogan.
The more ways you connect to people's needs, sense of belonging, and create a purpose for their work the deeper and more durable their commitment will be to going the extra mile creating extraordinary outcomes.