I love this quote by Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson, as described in Mark De Rond’s book, There is an I in Team, “There is no substitute for talent but, on the field, talent without unity of purpose is a hopelessly devalued currency.”
The essence of good leadership includes not only bringing great talent to the party, but also creating an environment that encourages people to come together around a clear and compelling purpose.
Easier said than done.
People are complicated and not easily swayed to give of themselves for mundane (albeit important) purposes such as sales or earnings growth. No business professional at retirement will regale his or her compatriots with great memories of busting the quarterly targets or consistently coming in under the firm’s cost budgets.
The best experiences, the memories and the life-changing moments in a career come from engaging with a group of individuals who trust each other enough to give it their all in terms of talent and energy. For these discrete moments in time, ego and function take a backseat to exploration, experimentation and to supporting each other forward towards some mutually important goal. That goal is never a set of financial targets. Those are outcomes of a broader mission.
There’s no easy formula for managers striving to create this unity of purpose on their teams. It’s an outcome of understanding your firm’s broader purpose and strategic goals and translating these into the opportunity for people to create. The act and art of creation may be the most unifying force in a business setting.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
Growing the firm to $100 million is not a unifying goal. On the other hand, creating the environment for growth and cultivating and supporting the development of people and social systems necessary to facilitate growth are indeed activities that unify.
How hard are you working at bringing purpose to the talent on your team?
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