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Follow the flag

Try and ask yourself the following question:

What specific lens do you mostly look through when you want to understand something in the company or when you are performing a certain task?

A pitfall we often meet is looking through the lens of our role description or local reality rather than looking through the lens of the single most relevant ambition that is the highest authority in any company – which is the purpose of the company.

When you choose to use the company’s purpose as the single most important starting point, it results in several consequences on all levels. Typically, the first to experience this shift is the formal leaders. Everyone possessing a formal leadership responsibility will need to ask themselves and all of their co-leaders a number of imperative questions immediately: 

  1. What is the fundamental purpose and ambition for me as a leader and how is that directly linked to our company purpose?
  2. What are some specific signs that I am succeeding (based on the purpose) and why these signs?
  3. How am I currently producing results related to our purpose – and what are the proof points of that?
  4. How should I define success as a leader when starting and ending with our company purpose?
  5. How would I describe the company’s current leadership culture, and how closely does this tie into the accomplishment of our purpose?

The reason all leaders must consider these questions is that it creates an image of the current leadership starting point which will shift as soon as you seek to improve its relevance and value creation through a purpose. Having a purpose is the most crucial aspect of any company, and everyone’s job is to contribute to the realization of this purpose, no matter the role or title you have. It is a highly specific and significant function that affects everything we all do, in any company at any time when we are serious about it.

Everyone has the same job in a company

An effective and inspiring purpose creates clarity that makes it significantly more transparent and easier to be a leader if you accept and follow the fundamental principles that naturally follow.

In a company driven by its purpose, several basic preconditions exist that all leaders should understand and live by to consider the purpose resolutely and use it as the effective engine it is:

A purpose-driven leader has no followers

The traditional type of personal followship is pushed in the background; instead, the purpose has taken a step forward. Do not follow the leader. Follow the flag and the leader is ‘just’ carrying the flag and helping all of us in the right direction.

All leaders’ consciousness and ability to produce meaning must be increased

This will allow them to look beyond themselves and stay rigorous and consistent with the company purpose and the specific steps to accomplish this purpose – in everything they do.

To succeed, it typically requires a higher level of maturity from all the leaders involved

You need to expand your understanding of what your work entails as well as the best methods to produce value. The answer will never be to optimise your own goals or subsystems but to help the company succeed and look beyond local KPI’s and metrics. In the end, it can never be about one leader, one department or team. The ultimate focus can only be to realize the common impact we are here to deliver as a company, which is defined in the purpose of the company cascaded through a range of strategic choices.

Most of us will need to be educated in this area

Since it falls us naturally to consider the world based on the aspects that impact ourselves and our own lives. You do your best within the limited area that involves you, but only having this limited focus an awareness of the whole creates problems for the bigger picture and will not produce the most valuable contributions for the company.

A purpose-driven leader has no followers

People are not here to follow you as a leader

To get started immediately, we have experience with the following elements having a clear impact on the company and desired impact:

  1. Define what ‘Follow the Flag’ specifically needs to mean in your company. In what areas are you already succeeding today and where do you need to step in and make significant and specific changes? Where is it possible to approach the company as a whole despite local KPI’s and subsystems?
  2. Define the modern version of KPI’s – Key Purpose Indicators – telling everyone what goods look like directly anchored in the purpose of the company and the desired impact.
  3. Go through all current activities involving training and educating the leaders of the company. If there is not already a direct connection with the company’s purpose involved in these, this should be changed immediately.
  4. Go through your recruiting process of new leaders with a fine comb to ensure the leaders holding the formal responsibility have the required maturity to see beyond themselves and their nearest reality. They should not define success based on their individual success but on how they contribute towards reaching the company’s goal defined in the purpose.
  5. Revisit your leadership model to ensure it outlines what good leadership specifically looks like reflecting a more holistic focus, and what is expected for this to be realised within your company reality.
  6. Check your reward logics thoroughly, ensuring there is a clear connection between the ambitions outlined in the company purpose and what the company’s leaders actually are being rewarded for.
  7. Inspire and mobilise your leaders to incorporate the thinking and behaviour outlined in this article. It will create the most inspiring and effective leadership jobs, resulting in a strategic differentiation of your company. You will educate and attract the most talented leaders which will reflect directly in the spreadsheets and how inspiring you have become as a company.

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