Why Your Company’s Purpose Must Go Beyond Making Money

Twenty years ago Jay Shah got his first job in finance and in the course of a year, he went from selling credit cards to collecting overdue balances on those same cards. It didn’t take him long to figure out the industry had some things backward, and he wanted to be part of a company doing it the right way. 

Fast forward to 2019. Shah is now the CEO of Personal Capital, a hyper-growth financial services and technology firm who exists to bring clarity and confidence to financial lives.

I sat down with him for an interview on the Follow My Lead Podcast and as we wrapped, I thought, “I don’t know another company in the finance world this purpose-driven.”

The words purpose-driven and finance don’t seem to even go in the same sentence because of a vast majority of people think the purpose of a finance company is “making money.” While making money is incredibly important for any business, not just in finance, a purpose-driven organization connects its mission to a deeper meaning in order to align its employees and make better business decisions.

Purpose isn’t just about words on a website or hanging on a wall. Shah and Personal Capital live out their purpose-driven culture. Here’s what we can learn about purpose from them:   

The Purpose Has to Go Beyond Money

Wealth Management is a $30 trillion industry and most companies in the financial services space have always made money on profiting, in the short-term, from their clients. The financial services industry is broken because lack a focus on truly serving the consumer. And because of their size, the right-hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Remember what happened with Wells Fargo?

Personal Capital’s purpose statement doesn’t read, “maximize shareholder value,” it reads “we bring clarity and confidence to financial lives.” That’s the point Shah proclaimed, “I wanted to focus on the long-term and being more outcome oriented. This way our clients can clearly understand the short-term decisions and the opportunity path forward to improve their personal outcomes.”

The better the organization does at making their purpose come to life for their clients, the better its own balance sheet is going to look.

Define and Celebrate Core Values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs an organization holds to be true. Unfortunately, many organizations define their core values, plaster them on their websites, and rarely look at them again. They’re so generic they could belong to an organization in any industry.

Shah, along with his 400 person workforce, defined five core values and put them in phrases that drive the behaviors of each and every employee:

  1. We get behind being upfront.
  2. We work hard to make things simple.
  3. We make all our business personal.
  4. We team up and break down any challenge.
  5. We build and uphold our legacy of trust.

They didn’t stop there, Personal Capital celebrates those who live out their core values on a daily basis. At any point, any employee can highlight another. Talented people aren’t interested in the defining of core values but rather the exercising of them.

Don’t Focus on the ROI of Being Purpose Driven

Being part of a company whose mission statement is “transforming financial lives through technology and people” is exciting. Admittedly, Shah knows that doesn’t guarantee anything, “Just because you are a purpose-driven company, doesn’t mean you will succeed. If I could have a choice between being purpose driven or profit motive or whatever else might drive you, I am going to choose purpose driven because it’s inspirational for all of us. Energy and transfer of enthusiasm that happens from our employees to our customers I don’t know the return but it really increases the odds.”

If a company in the difficult finance industry can be purpose-driven, I know yours can, and should as well.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: The Proven Leadership Framework to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

7 Wise Pieces of Advice That Will Change the Way You Lead

I define a leader as someone who’s actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others over an extended period of time. 

In an effort to help provide you the best pieces of leadership advice I have learned it’s important to keep in mind the things you do, are the things that matter most. The best leadership advice revolves around you and your actions.

1. Never lose sight of your character.

No one can take ownership of the mental and moral qualities distinctive to you. Stories of people in leadership positions making questionable or downright poor decisions are constantly circulating through the media. The danger is, they begin to seem normal and even expected. What’s even more alarming is those making the poor decisions often don’t pay an immediate price. 

Each day, you may come across a decision that tests your character. An immediate gain or the idea that you won’t get “caught” is tempting, but your decisions can have negative ramifications long beyond the moment, impacting those who had little involvement in your decision-making process. Only you can see who is really staring back at you in the mirror. When making decisions, consider why you’re making them and what will happen in both the long and short term. Lastly, don’t forget the famous quote from General Robert Caslen, “If you fail at character, you fail at leadership.”

2. Everyone is fighting a battle.

A mentor of mine once told me, “Everyone’s going through something whether you know about it or not.” For some, this might mean addiction, marital issues, behavioral issues with children, personal depression, loss, or other struggles. 

Everyone on your team is going through something. Take this into consideration every time you enter into a conversation with them. While you can’t fight their battles for them, you can be kind and empathize.

3. Reject power, collect hearts.

Henry Ward Beacher said, “Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength. He or she is the greatest whose strengths carries up the most hearts by the attraction of their own.” 

Your greatness as a leader won’t come from gaining power (promotions, titles or earnings), but instead collecting the hearts. What’s ironic is the best way to collect the hearts of your team isn’t to wield your power but to share your own heart in an authentic way. 

4. You can lead right where you are.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is thinking they can’t lead until they get the big promotion. There are literally hundreds of opportunities each day where you can choose to elevate others right where you are.

One of the most memorable pieces of advice I got was during an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast from former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, “If not you, then who?” Choose to lead right where you are because there is no one better than you, right now.

5. Forget your personal agenda.

There is nothing worse than someone who inserts themselves into positions of leadership simply to achieve their own agenda. Usually it’s camouflaged as a good deed for others, but in reality, it’s to boost their own ego and complete things in their best interest.

If you are going to change the way you lead, it’s imperative you set aside your personal agenda. This doesn’t mean you can’t achieve things or accomplish personal goals, but it means your heart has to be in the right place when you step into positions of leadership.

6. Everyone has the potential to be extraordinary.

In the business world filled with President’s clubs, awards, and bonuses, it’s easy to begin to believe that only some are meant to be extraordinary. But no one is ordinary and each person needs someone in their corner to give them a standing ovation.

While I am not in the camp of handing out participation trophies, I do believe in leaders investing in and showing each person they are made to do something extraordinary. Inspire and motivate your people every day. Sometimes, all they need is a little spark from someone else to make it happen.

7. You can’t lead everyone, don’t take it personally.

Why is it we can hear praise from one hundred people, but the one negative comment is the one that sticks with us? One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is taking it personally when they lose a team member. Having 100 percent buy-in rarely happens (if it does at all). Just take a look at the CEO approval ratings on Glassdoor.com.

While this can be tough to hear, don’t waste time and energy on people that aren’t putting in the work and rejecting the mission the team is on, it’s a losing battle. If you’ve put in the effort and they’re not giving back, move on. There are too many great and capable people in the world who want to get better to waste any more time. 

Lastly, leadership is a journey, not a destination. Your best days leadership days are ahead of you if you want them to be.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 35k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what leadership style you are for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: The Proven Leadership Framework to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

How to Ensure You Don’t Become a Bad Leader

As he looked into the mirror, he hated what he saw.  It wasn’t the gray hair coming from his beard or the receding hairline beginning to show, it was who he had become.  The words he used with his team replayed in mind. He wondered, “How can I be saying the words I vowed never to use? How can I be repeating his patterns?” His resentment towards his old boss grew stronger.  

He splashed some water on his face hoping the memory would go away. He looked back into the mirror and the memory raced back. He heard his own voice shouting, “It’s all your fault. You’re just not good enough for this job.”  He cringed again just thinking he actually said those words to his team.

He was supposed to be better. He should have learned from all the mistakes of that terrible boss. He had failed.

We’ve all experienced some bad behavior from bosses in the past and vowed never to act in the same manner. To ensure you stick to your word, do these 4 things:

Create a greatness statement

If you ask a room of 100 people “who wants to be great?” All 100 will raise their hands.  However, so few are willing to sacrifice to achieve greatness. On a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Don Yaeger told me, “Everyone has the capacity to be great, just so few choose to do the work physically and mentally to get there.  Before the work, it starts with defining what greatness means to you in three big areas of your life: family, work, and personally.”

We become what we think and who we surround ourselves with.  Be proactive in defining what being a great boss at work, at home, and socially means to you. Write it down and be specific, detailed and thoughtful. Once you have written it down, share it with someone else so they can hold you accountable.  

Stay purpose driven

The easiest way to become the boss you hated is to not be purpose driven (or to lose sight of your purpose).  The pressures of the world don’t slow down, they only speed up. That means the punches get harder and harder. If you lose sight of your purpose and begin chasing money, these punches just might knock you down and out.  

Remember why you do what you do. If you don’t know, look into the eyes of your people and go to work to help them develop. That’s always a purpose worth pursuing.  

Be radical about your example

Actions speak louder than words. You’ve heard it a million times. When you have a title of CEO, President, Vice President, or Manager your actions are put under a microscope. While many leaders focus on the words they use in emails or speeches, it’s how they model leadership that carries the most weight.  

The best question you can ask yourself is,

“If I was being recorded from start to finish today, would my team be proud of my decisions?”

Make time for things outside of work

I love my work.  Most high performers do as well.  While I find the concept of work-life balance is old-school, making time for the important things in life is critical, not just for your own well-being, but to also set a radical example for your team. If your people only see you valuing work and not your family, faith, or health, they will either mimic you or lose respect for you. Both are bad.

We make time for the things that are important to us.  Make time for your marriage, kids, health, and hobbies. Not only is it good for your team to see but it’s good for you.

The next time you look in the mirror just think about the bad bosses you have had in your life and make sure you aren’t becoming them.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 35k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out what leadership style you are for free.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: The Proven Leadership Framework to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.