Purpose: Why does your team exist?

One of the first things you can do as a leader is to discover the purpose of your team. Now it is easy to bypass this step because after all, it is likely that your team has already been around for a number of years but please don’t assume anything!

Each of the items in this section is important in terms of growing credibility thereby creating leadership influence. Being able to articulate the team’s fundamental purpose will allow you to use this knowledge as a means for making respectful decisions and providing focus to the team you are leading.

Now discovering purpose can be done in isolation or as a collaborative event with your team or even fellow leaders. In general, if there is an opportunity to engage other people in this activity, it will likely require less effort on your part to have it embraced by your group. In other words, you won't have to "sell" something that is created collaboratively.

In general, getting more people involved in activities decreases efficiency (things take longer) and increases effectiveness (they are more lasting and meaningful). You will have to judge the right number of people to engage in such activities to ensure that the team’s needs are properly met.

So why does your team exist? What is it that has caused everyone to join together and create this team? What is its fundamental reason for being?

Don’t be surprised if this question causes some debate. It may seem obvious to you but trust me, people will have a myriad of different ideas on this. The benefit of the process is that people will have an opportunity to be heard and also have their particular perspective on things shifted and enlarged as a result of the dialog and interaction.

There might be a temptation to “water down” your purpose so that everyone buys in, e.g. the consensus model. I recommend resisting this as much as possible because if your fundamental purpose is too generic, it will be meaningless and it won’t help you as a leader.

Consider the following:

Option 1:
Our team exists to make money.

Option 2:
Our team exists to make people's lives easier.

As ideas, opportunities and questions come up regarding the participation in various initiatives, option 1 provides little or no “guidance” for the team short of "selling lots of anything", while the second allows your team to challenge various ideas based on their alignment with making people's lives easier.

A healthy add on to this process is to dig deep and discoer why the purpose is important. What is important about making people's lives easier?

A big part of effective leadership is acting “in service of a group or cause”. Being very clear on the group or cause will allow you to leverage your influence in a powerful way.

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