Building bridges for CEOs

Purpose, People, Planet - Profit for Impact Triple Bottom Line Building Bridges for CEOs
The new triple bottom line. Scale for Impact

This week I was at a stunning event called Basecamp. On the second morning, the facilitator created an open space for a few people to choose to step forward and offer a topic they are passionate about, creating an invitation for others to join them for twenty minutes. I found myself stepping forward and saying something along the lines of:

“I want to create bridges between those who live and breathe a focus on Purpose, People and Planet and CEOs of large organisations.

I often hear people say “ah, but CEOs only care about profit“, but over and over again I have found CEOs who lead from purpose and profit is an outcome.

I also recognise the power of the word “more”. The world is complex and ambiguous, so can we all do more to move towards leading from purpose rather than profit. We can, so let’s talk about what we can do to create bridges”

I was blown away by how many people joined that conversation! I drew up the scale for impact model above (see original post here) then each persona shared for a minute. So many people seemed to be released to be able to talk about building bridges and the possibilities that can create!

From that event, we’ll be continuing that conversation across continents via video. I’m also always happy to talk to people in person (in London) or on video, do book a call at the link below if that calls to you.

Part of building bridges is telling real stories about real leaders generating real results by putting Purpose first (with Profit as an outcome of that, as opposed to the focus of the business).

The day I got back from Basecamp, one of the most humble, unassuming and purpose-driven corporate leaders posted something I will share with you today. The company he leads was, in late 2018, the highest valued company in the world, yet most people have never heard of him. His words resonate with me, so I encourage you to read on.

Humble Leadership and Trust

Nearly two years ago I wrote a post called: “Humble Leadership and Trust” reflecting on Chip Conley’s capture of the power of being a “Vulnerable Visionary”.

In that post, I wrote:

The leaders we need now need HUMILITY and VULNERABILITY and at the same time absolute CONFIDENCE that the business or organisation will find the answers.

Together this means that the leader must have TRUST in their vision and TRUST in their people.

That post was one of several I have written referencing the humble leader that is Satya Nadella of Microsoft, who had just published his book, “Hit Refresh”. He references “the best leadership advice in seven words”  and the seven words he used were :

Make it happen. You have full authority.


Microsoft and the Power of Purpose

This week Nadella’s book came out in paperback and he published an “Afterword” to update it, sharing that in a LI post. I share below an extract, bold type my own highlights:

In 1998, when we first achieved the milestone of highest market cap in the world, a lot of us interpreted the success as our own brilliance. By 2018, twenty years later, I think we have all come to realize how temporal—how fleeting—these moments can be. By the time you read this, it’s anyone’s guess what the stock market will do.

New York Times columnist David Brooks, in his discerning 2019 book The Second Mountain, writes that the first mountain in life is mostly about individual success, but the second mountain is about others; it is more generous and satisfying—it is about moving from self to service. It requires a “declaration of interdependence.” I believe this applies to organizations and companies as well.

For Microsoft, our mission— to empower others—helps us understand that these milestones don’t matter as much as the impact we can have in the world and the meaning, the sense of purpose, our team members can derive from their work. That is what’s enduring.

Purpose is Enduring. It is the north star that goes beyond and outlasts any operational or strategic plan. CEOs who can look beyond the quarterly reports and hold to their one-line job description of “Keeper of the Vision” far more easily do this and also hold their Board and institutional shareholders to this when they have a powerful Purpose.

Purpose creates meaning, which creates a foundation for having motivated and empowered staff. It is far easier to pull a rope than push it. You need far fewer rules, procedures, policies when all of the people in a company are aligned to that purpose.

To use just those two, when you have aligned, engaged and enrolled people and are able to keep a focus on long term strategic value rather than short term results, guess what? You make more Profit.

Let’s keep building bridges for, to and from CEOs with these types of conversations. We can all do more to move towards that new triple bottom line focus.

Also published on Medium.