Agile Leader

Tips for Creating a Purpose-Driven Team (Part 2)

October 19, 2022

Make sure it’s an Authentic Message. “Announcing” a company’s Purpose has become a popular mandate, but it’s also a dangerous one. When a company converts its Purpose into a “message” to broadcast, but the words in the message don’t actually govern the behavior of Leadership, everyone recognizes the hypocrisy, employees become hyper-cynical, and the process can do irreparable harm.

Further, more often than not, Purpose Statements are put to the test when things are going badly. When Leadership deviates from standard business protocols during times of crisis but behaves in line with the company’s “message of purpose,” people undoubtedly notice. In short, people know if your purpose is authentic when it drives every single decision, even unconventional decisions, especially when times are hard.

To put this into a real-life example, let’s say there’s a woman named K who has always been known as a very nice girl (that had always been her “message,” so to speak). A few years ago, K went on a girls trip to Vegas with several friends. On the way, she ran into a series of (admittedly challenging) logistical snags. By the end of the day, despite her friends’ collective attempts to help, she was acting horribly to everyone, deftly alternating between outbursts, sulking, and back to outbursts. One of her friends later said, “Wow. That behavior is so out of character for K.” In reality, stress doesn’t change you; it reveals you. Relating back to Leadership, think of K to see if their “message” and their behavior are aligned, particularly during challenging times.

Bottom line: Before you “message” your organization’s Purpose, ensure it can realistically withstand the test AND the quality of time, or it will backfire.

Make Sure it’s a Constant Message: The number of times someone has to hear something before he/she remembers it, is hotly debated, but it’s widely accepted to be considerably more than once. And nobody understands the value of repetition more than the advertising industry. Imagine how many thousands of times you’ve heard the following slogans, but more importantly, consider how immediately you’re able to identify their corresponding products:

  • Just do it
  • What happens here, stays here
  • Where’s the beef?
  • Good to the last drop
  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hand
  • Breakfast of Champions
  • Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is
  • The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching head, fever so you can get rest medicine.
  • Don’t Leave Home Without It
  • 15 minutes could save 15% or more on car insurance

Now consider the role that mere repetition has played in driving each of those “messages” into our collective consciousness indefinitely. The same goes for every organization’s message of purpose.

Tip #2 argues that in order to create a Purpose-Driven Team, it is every leader’s job first to DISCOVER the message (Tip #1)… and then to (not only) BROADCAST it, but to LIVE it, and to REPEAT it.

So here’s our challenge for you—Are you, as the Leader of your Team(s) living and repeating your Organization’s purpose? If not, what has interfered with your ability to do so?


Leaders cannot do anything alone, and creating purpose-driven Teams is no exception. The message may be formalized at the “top,” but purpose-driven cultures cannot be mandated from the “top-down.”  Rather, it’s up to Leaders to foster crusaders who will spread and model that message “in all directions” throughout the Organization. Below are three observations in order to grow these purpose-driven “crusaders.”

The Best Crusaders Stay Challenged

Employees want to think, learn, and grow…particularly those who are encouraged to embrace their Organization’s purposes. So challenge them and (in true Agile fashion) encourage them to fail fast and fail often!

Every time a Leader gives a Team Member a new/difficult challenge (AND embraces the risk of failure that accompanies this learning curve), it shows faith in that person’s potential, and the job becomes an incubator for learning and development. Along the way, that Team Member gains confidence and becomes more committed to the Organization and the higher purpose that drives it.

As a result, and more importantly (in terms of Agile principles), there is less and less need for managerial control, because the Team Members internalize the Organization’s strategic purpose, and they can carry it out even when the Leader isn’t right there. This approach assumes that the Leaders have communicated the Organization’s higher purpose with utter clarity.

The Best Crusaders Make it Personal

Not everyone is born knowing how to “communicate a message.” Even once Leaders have done an amazing job discovering and modeling their Organization’s purpose, they may not know exactly how to communicate that purpose, and the same goes for their crusaders. Our recommendation to everyone (regardless of job title): when you are communicating your Organization’s purpose, make it relatable by making it personal. Once you learn how to develop and tell compelling stories that convey your personal and/or professional purpose, and how that personal “identity” relates to your organization’s purpose, you will have permanently unlocked the power of that message.

There’s an old expression in the writing world: “Write What You Know.” But (despite its common misinterpretation), that idiom doesn’t necessarily apply to the story’s plot so much as the thoughts and feelings that the plot elicits in its characters. And the more those thoughts/feelings mirror that of the author, the more that authenticity bridges the “relatability” gap between the author and his/her reader. The same principle applies here. When you, as a Leader, openly share the connection between your Organization’s purpose and your own, you are no longer reading from a company playbook—you are sharing a vulnerable, sincere, and exponentially more memorable moment. The beauty of this approach is that it also inspires others to make that same (“personal to organizational”) connection in their own minds, and thereby reignites their passions for the Organization, its purpose, and (because everyone’s connection will be different) their unique value within that Organization.

The Best Crusaders are Already at Your Fingertips

Every Organization already has a pool of naturally crusading change agents. Widely spread throughout your Organization are mature, optimism-oriented, purpose-driven people. They are open-minded. They are willing to take initiative. They are trusted by others. They effortlessly inspire others.

For heaven’s sake, don’t waste these resources. Formally enlist these “natural” change agents to share the message AND to return to you with feedback and new ideas.

Tip #3 to Creating a Purpose-Driven Team argues that it’s up to you, as Leaders, to foster crusaders who will spread and model the message of your Organization’s purpose rather than trying to mandate a purpose-driven culture.

Here’s our challenge for you: Are you, as the Leader of your Team(s) using any of the three observations above in order to “foster purpose-driven crusaders?” If so, which ones have you found to be successful? Or maybe you have additional observations of your own on which you’ve capitalized for this purpose? We’d love to hear from you!


Tanya Twerdowsky

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