Management Articles


For Swiftest Path to Recovery, Connect Your People with Your Purpose and Passion

By: Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is author of Motivate Like a CEO: Communicate your Strategic Vision and Inspire People to Act! (McGraw Hill 2009) and the best-seller Speak Like a CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results. President and CEO of Bates Communications,, she also writes The Power Speaker Blog  

The hangover from the economic meltdown has businesses feeling "fuzzy." Even if you've done all the right things, such as made tough decisions, cut your expenses and accelerated sales activities, you'll still likely notice a difference in the way people are talking and feeling. People are simply uncertain about precisely what to do. Perhaps they lack the focus, drive and energy that is palpable when business is booming or, worst-case scenario, perhaps things are far worse off, i.e., your firm is downright paralyzed! Your "recovery plan" may be to just tough it out and hang on for better days.

How can you avoid such a trap and not just survive but thrive in this down economy? Moreover, how can you take advantage of these times to position your company for accelerated profitable growth? It's not simply a question of restructuring, cost-cutting, merging or downsizing, it's about people-and leadership. Companies that accelerate their recovery are not just creating a smart roadmap for success. Instead, their leaders are out front-communicating, motivating and inspiring their teams.

Your own passion and purpose are what will motivate your team. This will have a direct, undeniable impact on the bottom line of your business. Whether you know it or not, people are attracted to your purpose and passion and want to be part of it. A motivated, energized workforce is essential to accomplishing your goals. Motivated people overcome the obstacles, defy the odds, and get things done.

The ripple of the turbulent economy on every industry is undeniable with everyone feeling some level of pain. But times like these nonetheless offer your company a tremendous opportunity to get clear about where you are going and why. You can take this time to really connect with people and align them with purpose and passion toward a common goal.

After years of coaching and working with top executives, I've seen that those who do well in challenging times usually are also outstanding communicators. They work with purpose and passion as a matter of course and they attract other people to that purpose. At the heart of motivating your employees is a powerful sense of purpose.

All people long to have a purpose and to believe in what they do, to contribute something important. They want to know that what they do every day really matters. As their leader, you need to be clear about purpose and communicate it with passion each day, in order to ignite everyone's creativity, optimism, and resourcefulness.

As you know, leaders tend to hide or withdraw when they are not certain how to proceed. But you don't have to have all the answers. To be a motivating, inspiring force in your organization, you just need to keep communicating your plan and your faith in others. Today people need to hear from you more than ever. You know this is true because you've undoubtedly worked in organizations in your past where there's been a vacuum of information. "During reorganization," a manager once told me, "many members of our staff were kept in the dark about where the department was going. As a result, there was a lot of anxiety and so many people started looking for jobs out of fear." What was the result? Key talent departed, projects went off track, deals failed to get made. In this atmosphere, misunderstandings, misgivings and misfires abound.

As we begin this troubling year of 2009, we all long for leaders who we can believe in. We don't want false hope or phony speeches, we just want an opportunity to continue doing valuable work. If you you're your people the opportunity to make a contribution, they will feel valued.

So right now, your most important job is to outright tell them what they can do to make a difference. If you don't believe that motivating people is one of your strengths, start focusing on it. You'll get better as you do it. Many talented, smart business executives have been less than successful because they lack this skill. Don't become one of them.

To help you along, here are a few questions to ask yourself that may help you better connect to your own purpose and passion:

  • What do I really enjoy about the work that I do?
  • Why does this work matter to me?
  • What are the outcomes or impact of this work on others?
  • When do I feel the greatest sense of satisfaction?
  • If I were talking to my best friend about what I love about my job, what would I say?
  • What would our customers, clients and others say is the best thing about our company?

When you reconnect with your own purpose and passion, your energy attracts others and invites them to engage as well. In times like these, leaders with a powerful purpose and passion for what they do will be able to build strong, motivated teams destined for success. Even if you believe you've already communicated with your purpose and passion, keep doing so! Your people may need to see and hear it again...and again and again. In times like these, leaders in every industry who keep their people's eyes focused on the prize will be the ones who propel their companies along the swiftest and shortest path to full recovery.

© Copyright 2009, Suzanne Bates

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