Early in my career I had a meeting with a new prospective client. We started talking and after about 10 minutes he asked, “So why are you here. What is your purpose?” In truth, I wasn’t clear on my purpose only that I wanted him to buy.
I made the cardinal mistake of not identifying the purpose of our meeting. I was not valuing his time or engaging him: It was all about me. That did not resonate with him and I did not make a sale that day. But I did learn a valuable lesson – always be clear about your purpose.
Business interactions today require a clear purpose. Clarifying purpose creates greater understanding and engagement; increases productivity and effective behaviour; and delivers enhanced results.
If purpose is not clear, individuals disengage and are likely to leave feeling “that was a waste of time.”
Eight situations where purpose should be stated explicitly to all stakeholders:
1. Sharing information
If you are:
- Clarifying the vision or strategy
- Updating results
- Providing insights or background information
- Stating expectations or giving feedback
2. Building relationships
A big part of leadership is building trust. It takes time to get to know someone or a team, and time to let them get to know you.
It is critical to ensure that people understand the “why” and the overall purpose of a decision. Involve individuals in a collaborative manner in decisions that affect them. This does not mean that decisions must be by consensus, but understanding and involvement in the process adds value. Ultimately the leader makes the decision; but greater support will be achieved if high trust exists.
4. Agreeing upon expectations
Be very clear about what is expected from an individual or a team and achieve agreement on the outcome.
Purpose must be defined in order to clearly define an issue, work through it and develop a creative solution.
6. Developing or educating team members
Developing the team through learning new skills increases effectiveness. Spend time before you share the knowledge to clarify the purpose of the training.
Purpose can help us to feel motivated, engaged and enthusiastic.
Leaders and participants must understand the purpose of coaching if it is to be effective. Find out how individuals are doing or feeling, celebrate what is working well, provide guidance and support about how to move forward, and ensure goals are created and worked on.
Be clear on your purpose.