This week I’ve spent time with a couple of organisations and their CEO’s discussing similar challenges, although in very different industries.  The challenge is one that many organisations would love to face in their quest to build communities of highly engaged, passionate people and are actively aspiring to be more ‘purposeful’.

 Their organisations are shaped by a high degree of purpose. Staff are passionate, dedicated and highly motivated because they see a direct relationship between the purpose of the organisation and their own.  They see significance in what they do and why. They pour their energy into the company, driven by a deeper motivation that fuels significant increases in engagement and performance.

 So, why do these CEOs of highly purposeful organisations see this as a challenge?

 Ironically, it is this very strong passion and drive that can lead to potential problems. No matter how driven and purposeful your employees are, their talent holds limited value if they are not appropriately guided and nurtured by managers and leaders who can keep the passion burning, whilst still keeping an eye on the ultimate goal.

  In these type of organisations, the management structure is often less rigid which can open up more freedom and opportunities. Employees willingly seize the many opportunities available to them and they pour their heart and soul into their work, driven by the knowledge that they are contributing to something worth-while and meaningful.  This is great and leads to innovation and speed.  However, it can also create a lack of focus and projects that are started but not completed.

 The crux of a CEO’s challenge is knowing how to strike a delicate balance between allowing the passion and creativity of his workforce to flourish whilst still keeping within a clear and focused business strategy. 

 So, here are 3 key pieces of advice to anyone managing a highly purposeful organisation.

 1) Ensure the business framework and strategy is crystal clear, well communicated and understood by all employees.  Encourage freedom within it but always be mindful – and ready to remind others – of the strategy. Why are we doing this? Does it really contribute to the bigger picture?

 2) Managers need to be confident about providing the perspective and rationale when needed. They need to be the ‘adult’ and gently guide their innovative and talented team back to the framework if they feel the focus has become hazy or blown off-course.

 3) Managers also need to recognise signs that employees may be pushing themselves too far, blinded by their passion and focus on the outcome. They may even be at risk of burning themselves out. Regular opportunities to reflect and re-energise will help fuel the team with the new energy and commitment they need to tackle the next big project or initiative.  


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