The Purpose Effect Book Summary - The Purpose Effect Book explained in key points
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The Purpose Effect summary

Dan Pontefract

Building Meaning in Yourself, Your Role, and Your Organization

4.3 (149 ratings)
18 mins
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    The Purpose Effect
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    The purpose of purpose

    Why do the people in an organization actually do their jobs? Are they driven by profits? Do they want to gain more power in the company? Do they believe that by doing their work, they’re impacting the world in a meaningful way? 

    Purpose goes beyond a mere mission statement or maximizing profits. It is a higher calling that aims to improve society and benefit all stakeholders. For purpose to be fully realized, three levels must align: personal purpose, organizational purpose, and role purpose. This alignment creates a “sweet spot,” where employees find meaning in their work.

    Leaders focused solely on capital gains and share price risk neglecting the needs of other stakeholders, like employees. True purpose upholds an organization's mission to benefit society, not solely to preserve hierarchy or financial gain. 

    Research by Deloitte LLP shows that a culture of purpose boosts confidence, growth, and financial performance. Employees who sense purpose in their organization feel committed to providing top-quality products and services. By believing in the purpose of their organization, they became intrinsically motivated to fulfill their role. 

    Employees who don’t sense purpose in their organization focus more on financials, KPIs, and getting through the working week. While 73 percent of the purpose-driven group in the Deloitte study felt engaged with their work, only 23 percent of the non-purpose group felt the same. Performance, job, and general satisfaction in this group also dropped significantly. So, instilling purpose in the workplace makes good business sense. 

    But purpose doesn’t spontaneously appear. It must be cultivated. Leaders shouldn’t view it as an “us versus them” dynamic, where leaders dictate purpose to employees. Rather, team members should be considered both leaders and followers; they provide insight that informs organizational purpose, and take action to fulfill it. 

    Leaders who model purpose and vulnerability themselves foster it in their teams. With the courage to look beyond short-term gains, leaders can develop purpose-driven organizations where employees find meaning and see their work as valuable.

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    What is The Purpose Effect about?

    The Purpose Effect (2016) combines motivational psychology, organizational culture, and the pursuit of meaning to explore how shared purpose can change the world. What happens when company and employee goals align? How can we foster a culture where we pursue work that really has an impact? This deep-dive is your guide to finding the sweet spot of shared purpose.

    Who should read The Purpose Effect?

    • Leaders wanting to build meaningful businesses
    • Employees seeking purpose in their career
    • Managers and coaches looking to optimize performance

    About the Author

    Dan Pontefract is a renowned expert on leadership and corporate culture, with over two decades of senior roles at firms like SAP and TELUS. He's the award-winning author of Lead. Care. Win, Open To Think, Flat Army and the upcoming Work-Life in Bloom. A frequent contributor to Forbes and the Harvard Business Review, and an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, Pontefract has presented at multiple TED events and is passionate about evolving contemporary leadership.

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