Dear leader, are you the shining light in the darkness?


"A shout-out to all Commander-in-Chief’s”

Words by Klavs Valskov

Purpose-driven companies attract the biggest talents, have the most passionate customers, and change the world. They instantly impact our daily lives and contribute to a better and brighter future for all. But their rate of success is depended on how well the leaders manage to communicate, stay credible, and – essentially – mobilize their most important asset: the employees.

2017 and 2018 were tough times for a tech industry that otherwise has rolled out success after success in the past decade and now constitutes the elite of the world's most powerful brands. But numerous sex scandals, lack of diversity accept, and unethical behaviour on the verge of law have tarnished its reputation causing huge trust gaps.

Who’s to blame? Well, top management might be a good place to start pointing some fingers.

In 2017, co-founder of ride-hailing firm Uber Travis Kalanick were forced to resign under investor pressure after a string of scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Some of the company's leading women resigned in sympathy and left the fast-progressive company in a vacuum through most of the year leaving important market shares available for its biggest competitor, Lyft.

In mid 2018, Amazon employees went on a strike due to crappy working conditions. The case followed an episode where employees fell asleep standing and got their bathroom breaks timed all while the management defused the issues behind closed doors. The mass media pressure ultimately forced top boss Jeff Bezos to publicly promise change.

And finally, we have the compromising stories about Tesla mogul Elon Musk and his clumsy Twitter habits. First, he accused a diver, who helped rescue boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, of being a “pedo”; then he tweeted about considering removing his company from the bond market. Both cases left behind the impression of a stressed man – and probably a stressed company.

But what damage has exactly been done? Aren’t such examples just passing stuff? I mean, employees sure have other things to worry about than management behaviour and whether doubts are being made about the company's higher purpose?

It seems like we need to approach the subject in a serious manner.

A study from Harvard Business Review shows that if employees find meaning and feel part of a higher purpose, their job satisfaction is doubled – and they are three times more likely to stay employed. This purpose driven approach is not just a factor in the battle for the best and brightest people. 9 out of 10 consumers would change brand if a competing brand of equal price and quality was purpose-driven.

When purpose-driven companies are capable of motivating employees and have a higher customer satisfaction rate, value is created. For a decade, Harvard professors John Kotter and James Heskett have studied how value and purpose driven companies simply outperform their rivals in regard to stock prices.

The management’s ability to communicate the company purpose and fulfil it through a consistent behaviour is therefore of crucial importance.

So, how do you perform leadership?