Henry Ford once said, “Why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?” Yikes Henry! Bad day? I like to think that if Henry was alive today, he would adapt his quote to say, “Why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a heart attached?” Faced with constant disruption and complexity in the marketplace, it can be easy for a leader to function with this mindset. There was a time when I was that leader. I lost sight that the hands on my team also came with their own heart and need for purpose.

As I have met different leaders over the years, the value of hands over a heart has been a predominant theme. Leaders can easily rattle off the needs to revenue profitability, but stumble when asked about the true purpose of their organization. With a majority of the workforce now millennial and GenZ, we live in a world where the typical life-cycle of a good pair of hands is about two years. However, we ignore the number one thing that keeps this workforce’s heart at a job for longer than five years – a sense of purpose beyondprofitability.

In Larry Fink’s 2019 Letter to CEOs, he addressed Purpose and Profit in the following key ways:

  • Purpose and Profits are inextricably linked. Profits are essential if a company is to effectively serve all of its stakeholders over time – not only shareholders, but also employees, customers, and communities. Similarly, when a company truly understands and expresses its purpose, it functions with the focus and strategic discipline that drive long-term profitability. Purpose unifies management, employees, and communities.
  • Stakeholders are pushing companies to wade into sensitive social and political issues – especially as they see governments failing to do so effectively. The world needs your leadership. As divisions continue to deepen, companies must demonstrate their commitment to the countries, regions, and communities where they operate, particularly on issues central to the world’s future prosperity. 
  • In a recent survey by Deloitte, millennial workers were asked what the primary purpose of businesses should be – 63 percent more of them said “improving society” than said “generating profit.” In the years to come, the sentiments of this generation will drive not only their decisions as employees, but also as investors, with the world undergoing the largest transfer of wealth in history: $24 trillion from baby boomers to millennials. 

See a theme? Now, take a minute and be honest with yourself. If asked, would the employees of your organization say you mainly focus on profit or purpose? If the answer is profit, then as Whoopi Goldberg said in the movie Ghost, “Molly, you in danger girl.” While you obviously need to focus on profit, having a clear purpose that you lead with in your everyday culture will still bring this new workforce to that profit.

At Lucky Forks, we don’t believe that a company is “too small” to become a purpose-driven organization. In fact, we actually think it is one of the best times. Why? Because it is much easier to shift from a hands led organization to a hearts led organization at 500 people, than it is at 5,000.