I had a major “aha” in a session recently. I realized that every great organization has a soul. This soul is defined by two things: core values and core focus. I’ve been teaching these two disciplines for 10 years and now realize that the company that truly lives them has a momentum, an energy, an X-factor-a soul. It also has less dysfunction, symptomatic problems, and retention issues.
Unfortunately, if your organization is like most, it doesn’t have a soul. As a result, you’re constantly dealing with unnecessary problems, challenges, and issues. The great news is that you can find your organization’s soul, and it’s relatively simple.
The math is this: core values + core focus = soul
Let’s take them one at a time:
1. Core Values: You must determine the 3 to 7 characteristics that describe the culture you want-how you want your people to think, be, and act in your organization. They stem from you, and you must be honest, real, and raw with this answer. They always start with the leader. Don’t make the mistake of polling your employees. Once they’re clear, you build a culture by hiring, firing, reviewing, rewarding, and recognizing everyone around them going forward.
2. Core Focus: This is your company’s sweet spot. It’s where you excel. It’s what you love to do and what you’re great at doing. When you do it, you’re in the zone. If this is true (and it is) and there is such a thing, why would you do anything else? Until you maximize every opportunity in your sweet spot, there’s no reason to look anywhere else.
You can determine your core focus right now. The exercise has two parts:
Part 1: Answer the “why.” Ask yourself what you’re absolutely passionate about, what your purpose is, or what your cause is. The one answer to this line of questions is the first half of your core focus. Please be honest, real, and raw with this answer.
As Harry Beckwith says, “People don’t lead. Purposes do.” Some of the best work I’ve ever seen on describing this discovery is Simon Sinek’s work.
Part 2: Answer the “what.” Ask yourself where you excel as an organization-the work that you enjoy most and where clients tell you that you knock it out of the park. This answer is the other half of your core focus.
The combination of both answers to parts 1 and 2 is your core focus. Once this is clear, your job is to stay laser-focused on it and exhaust every opportunity in it. Until you do, there’s no need to look anywhere else or get distracted. All of your people, systems, and processes need to be designed and aligned to drive it with absolute consistency.
Once your core values and core focus are clear, this is your organization’s soul. From there, you must align everyone and everything with it. Make sure all of your people have your core values, are passionate about your cause, and are genetically encoded to do the work that you do. All of a sudden, your organization has soul and will experience the momentum, ease, and X-factor I described earlier.
You have an opportunity in front of you to build something great stemming from your company’s soul, and I urge you to do it.
I’d like to share some good news. The 10,000th copy of Traction sold this month! I’m also excited to announce that I am writing my second book, and the test reader feedback has been phenomenal.
We are coming into the home stretch for the year. Please make sure to do an organizational checkup to make sure you’re firing on all cylinders and that you finish the year strong.