With regard to your chapter title: Can you share why purpose-driven leadership is better than traditional leadership?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: Purpose is a big driver of good leadership. 87% of business executives agree that their companies will perform better if their purpose goes beyond making a profit (EY Purpose Institute).
Purpose is an intrinsic pull for us as human beings even when we are not so conscious of it. If people form, lead, and work for organizations, how come we ignore this need at work? Cutting-edge leadership includes a lot of things, but I, personally, believe purpose is a big part of that. People spend most of their time at work and if they feel like they’re also part of something bigger than their daily mundane tasks, it is proven it increases their engagement at work. They feel they belong. Purpose-driven companies exist everywhere in the world, in every size and shape. They have better results by recognizing a basic human need. When leaders understand this and implement it, they not only create an amazing environment where people thrive but they also create an amazing legacy for themselves too. Think about people you led telling how much you touched their lives and made them happy (instead of making them miserable and sick as many of the companies do like the Dying for a Paycheck book explains so well).
What would you say your area of expertise is?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: Speaking, writing and advising on new leadership skills that bring engagement, humanity, and happiness to the workplace. (Which all increases profit by the way.)
Is that for any particular type of company?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: I would say small to medium size companies are the ideal ones since they are more flexible to change. I sometimes work with big names too by starting with one department or one location. When they have amazing results, it becomes an example for the rest of the company and then they want to roll it out to other departments too. But generally speaking, the bigger companies have more steps, rules, and bureaucracy, so it takes longer to transform.
Any particular industry – tech, entertainment – or it doesn’t really matter?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: It doesn’t matter so much, but I have a background in technology companies. I worked for IBM, so I tend to attract them. The industry really doesn’t matter so much though since it’s really about the inner and the outer work that the leader has to do and how much they are willing to be open minded to try on new ways of leading.
Is there a success story that you can share?
Ozlem Brooke Erol: Sure. This was a San Diego local company. They have three generations in the workplace. They had many challenges when it came to collaborating. They had different values and there was a lot of tension. They did not know how to create a culture where everybody can work in harmony. They were also worried about the turnover rate.
When I started working with them I conducted some engagement surveys. It became obvious that they all wanted the same things out of work. They just had different ways to express it. When asked what the company stands for or what the purpose beyond profit was, they had very different answers. They had silos. They had a lot of “we”, “you” in their conversations. They did not feel like a big team. Some were so frustrated; they were ready to quit as other co-workers did. We also calculated the real cost of turnover. It was a lot higher than they expected. They were only looking at direct costs before I came in.
After getting the leadership together looking at the survey results and other assessments I conducted, we came to agreement on using some of my methodologies to increase the sense of belonging. It was easy to invest some of that money they would save from less turnover to their culture work and leadership development. As a result, their turnover rate went down 25% in their first year, and their engagement rates got 52% higher. The best part was to see they all felt proud as a big team. They clearly saw they are all part of a big purpose. The vibe of the company changed. The CEO felt much better about making his people happier and he knew he would leave a wonderful legacy when it is time to retire. At the beginning he was hesitant to believe it is possible to increase profit by putting his people first, but he was happy to see it worked out well for the business.
For more information about Ozlem Brooke Erol, visit www.purposeful.business. You can follow her at @boerol1.