The Purpose Effect is a three-way relationship between an individual’s personal sense of purpose in life, the organization’s purpose and a person’s purpose in their role at work. When all three aspects of purpose are properly defined, are well aligned, and function in partnership with one another, then the employee, the organization and society mutually benefit.
When they are not, it can lead to significant damage in society and in the organization. The Purpose Effect is the pattern I have exposed.
Think of it as a three-legged barstool. If one of the legs is broken or uneven, either an individual ends up crashing to the ground or there is a perpetual wobble, prompting a feeling of uneasiness, of disequilibrium. Such a lack of balance in the workplace can result in personal disengagement, disbandment of a team, or in the direst instance, the end of the organization itself.
Those who lack direction in these situations, simply go through the motions, longing for the day when their opinions and ideas mattered, helpless as senior leaders pursue an organizational purpose that has no meaning for them personally. Any lack of alignment between the three categories of purpose—the barstool legs—can have devastating consequences at both an individual and a collective level.
The Purpose Effect (buy it here if you like) chronicles my thesis and findings. It draws on research, interviews and first-hand leadership experience, establishing a potentially positive and reciprocal connection between three distinct categories of purpose:
- Personal purpose
- Organizational purpose
- Role purpose
If all three categories of purpose can come to fruition—if there is a positive interconnection between the three distinct definitions of purpose—the benefits should be felt by employees, teams, the organization, customers, owners and, perhaps most importantly, society as a whole. We can refer to this balanced state as the “sweet spot.”
I was fortunate in 2015 to be asked to deliver another TEDx Talk, my third. I took the opportunity to unleash The Purpose Effect in the now legendary, 18-minute TED format. Watch it below: