The Rhythm of Team Purpose

Theresa Sigillito Hollema

"When you're surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible."              

Howard Schultz, Chairman & CEO Starbucks

Drumbeat, rhythm, spirit - Imagine the drumbeat of purpose, the rhythm of why your team exists, the spirit of the purpose expressed in the actions of the team members. Drumbeat, rhythm, spirit…beat ... beat… beat…

 In my work as a Systemic Team Coach for Executive and Management teams of large and medium sized international organizations, I meet many teams who do not know the reason why they exist - their Purpose, which transcends monthly, quarterly and annual timelines; which goes beyond a deliverable; and which speaks to everyone on the team. Often blogs and articles on purpose focus on the individual finding their personal purpose, which could be a worthwhile endeavor. However, as teams and organizations prepare themselves for the future by developing the capacity to eliminate blockages for innovation and transformation, defining the team purpose is a powerful place to begin.

Social Enterprises are inspiring organizations with a clear purpose that can be referenced as examples because often their business case begins with the purpose and not the product or customer. I have been closely involved with Granny’s Finest, a social enterprise which addresses the loneliness in seniors by bringing them together in enjoyable handwork clubs, where they knit or crochet beautiful, high quality products.  Granny's Finest generates revenue through the sale of the products which is used to fund fun activities for the seniors. Through this experience I have personally felt the rhythm of the purpose in everything we do; in the decisions we make; in the way we set up the business processes such as distribution, IT, production, product placement, etc; and in the way we interact with our stakeholders. The impact of purpose is most profound in the connections the employees and volunteers make with each other – the commitment and energy that keeps everyone moving in the same rhythm with their own actions and tasks.

Before you think ‘big deal, they are social and we have shareholders’, remember a social enterprise is also a business, they have simply made the purpose more prominent which may be a learning for traditional companies.

When I coach teams and we spend time to define the purpose, no one ever regrets the process. People are eager to find purpose in their work, and to discuss this with their colleagues with whom they work! This seems logical – ‘we spend so much time together, and our success has such an impact on my life both inside and outside of work – let’s discuss why we exist!’ After we had completed the process to define the purpose, one Senior Director shared ‘I now have something I want to share with my son that goes beyond our products and money’.

The process to define the Team Purpose can be deep and generally requires an external facilitator to ask the unbiased probing questions, steer the discussion, and design the activities for maximum effectiveness and impact.

Take the time to sharpen your team for the future by starting with the Purpose. Theresa Sigillito Hollema MBA is a certified systemic team coach and cultural consultant. For more information contact her theresa.sigillito@crustyoung.com