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Who is the highest authority in a company?

When a company takes its purpose to the next level, it can have lasting effects on every aspect of the organization throughout every corner of the business. Throughout every conversation, investment decision, recruitment and strategy decision – the purpose should always be felt as the governing force behind a company’s day to day way of operating.

Of course, prioritizing purpose over an authority figure like the CEO does have an impact on how one relates to and navigates a company’s hierarchy and its senior leadership. All companies are already now struggling to navigate the balance between purpose and hierarchy, and many refer to it as “the political game”, which is completely normal and understandable. No matter the business; the status of whatever role you hold in a company means something. Everyone thinks about, either consciously or unconsciously, what their role and status is and how it relates to whomever they interact with.

This article will not magically fix this, but what if one could handle these negotiations a little more consciously and effectively?

Not everyone will see immediate success in this methodology, as it requires a lot of focus and introduces the potential for a short-term price – however, the long-term reward is so valuable for those who are consistent and continue to improve and learn along the way.

Simply put, not one person should ever be the highest authority in the company.

It’s not the CEO, the chairman of the board, the shareholder nor anyone else who might think they have the last word, it should always be and can only be the purpose of company. The classic approach of insisting that your voice has be heard just because you have an important title will no longer get you ahead of the purpose. In fact, the opposite will be true.

If a business claims to be purpose-driven, it is a natural consequence that all behavior, communication, decision-making or political manipulations that don’t directly protect, develop or deliver on that purpose should immediately be confronted. If your first priority instead always is tied to the purpose, you deliberately de-prioritize your own selfish interests at times because there is something that is more important.

The highest authority in a company is not a person. It is an ambition.

When adopting a purpose-driven philosophy, a chain reaction should start immediately. This ensures that the purpose is never undermined as the highest authority of a company. It is not about who but about what and why. The highest authority is not a person, but an ambition holding purpose translation of a company as the mountain the company is trying to summit.

CEOs, directors and board members will come and go but the business should be timeless. People can be given the keys to the company for a short period of time, but the company should stay relevant for significantly longer than the span of their leader’s and employees’ careers. The goal is to shift the purpose away from one person and implement a set of values for the whole company to adhere to and live by.  For that to happen, it requires a lot of hard work starting in the boardroom but felt throughout every aspect of the company. All leaders must have an honest conversation about which side of the line they stand and whether they’re ready to adopt a purpose-driven approach to the daily leadership of the company. Neither side is right or wrong, but there is a big difference in how you work and what you are able to achieve, depending on where you stand, and if you are claiming to stand in the corner of purpose it is all about clarity and consistency towards one single ambition.

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