leadership incorporated blog

May 9, 2011

Why a Chief Inspiration Officer is smart business

When told they had to  shave $3.8M from their budget, one thing the University of Idaho felt was far too important to lose was their $112,500 part-time Chief Inspiration Officer. As you might imagine, they’re getting a lot of pushback on this. But the Provost says, it is “absolutely worth the money. She’s helping us reshape our culture.”

By “culture,” they don’t just mean happy people who like working together. They’re talking about a culture of purpose.

So what’s so important about that? Well, let’s look at just a few ways developing a culture of purpose directly impacts profitability.

BETTER HIRING A clear culture of purpose informs your hiring. You attract and recognize the right people. They are a good fit and improve your employee retention. Have you taken a look recently at the cost of replacing people????

INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY People work differently when they’re working for a purpose other than their paycheck. Given a choice: someone who only cares about doing their time and getting the check vs. someone who only cares about keeping their job vs. someone who cares deeply about making your organization excellent. Which would you choose?  People who work for organizations with a culture of purpose don’t just work longer and harder, they bring passion to it and care about what they do. You’ll see the difference in your bottom-line.

EFFECTIVE DECISION MAKING Creating a culture of purpose is actually all about planning. You know how much time and money planning saves. When you’ve planned out a culture of purpose, your decision-making process is clear and universal. Decisions are focused and consistent. You’ll save massive amounts of time by avoiding delays and explorations of choices that have nothing to do with your mission. Extrapolate this to every decision maker in your organization and multiply by what they’re paid. Huge impact.

QUALITY CLIENTS Think about your own product loyalties. Guaranteed, the companies you care about have a clear purpose. You count on them for excellent products and service. You don’t care about companies that don’t communicate and deliver on their caring about delivering something of value to you, and perhaps even something bigger. Why would you? Clients flock to organizations that stand for something bigger than lining their own pockets. When you stand for something meaningful, clients come to you, stay with you, refer you, talk about you, do a lot of your marketing for you, and pay more for what you offer. Any question this impacts your bottom line?

GROWTH it ain’t your father’s economy out there. Growth today will not overlook a lack of vision and purpose. There is too much competition out there ready and able to fill any gap you leave open. Growth and the ability to change are the core competencies of success. If you want to grow you need them. And if you don’t want to grow, you’ll be replaced by someone who does.

You need a Chief Inspiration Officer if:

  • There’s no sense of energy and purpose in your organization
  • Clients aren’t coming to you
  • Clients aren’t loyal
  • Staff won’t go the extra mile
  • You have a lot of turnover
  • Decisions take forever and take you down wrong paths

Someone in the leadership of your organization needs to hold, clarify and communicate your message. Keep everyone on track. Remind everyone of your purpose, holding your vision. Facilitate agreements on how you make decisions, how you hand-off to one-another, who you work with and who you don’t, what you do and what you don’t do.

But just having purpose isn’t enough. You need to communicate it. Cultivate it. Coach it. Design it in to each team member’s role and responsibilities.

This is not “HR’s Job.” Slotting this into HR means overwhelming your HR people and overlooking the place it’s needed most and where culture originates before rolling downhill: senior management.

You can call the role Chief Inspiration Officer, Chief Culture Officer Chief Purpose Officer. Call it whatever you want. But whatever you call it, get one.

There’s a reason the brands you know invest millions in developing culture and purpose. That’s how they got where they are. And the companies that don’t? You probably haven’t heard of ‘em.

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