7 Good Reads for Purpose-Driven Leaders

BY Jim Cole Managing Editor
Means & Matters

Aug 9th 2021

Purpose or profits? We know now that’s a false choice. A growing body of research shows companies will need both to thrive in the future.

As the economic recovery revs up, the natural synergies between purpose and profits are becoming more apparent. Small and medium-size businesses and larger corporations are increasingly focused on growing profitably with purpose. A recent issue of the Harvard Business Review points out that aligning your company’s purpose with your customer’s values leads to success.

HBR isn’t alone. Here are seven other articles I’ve come across recently that provide insights, practical strategies, and tactics for purpose-driven leaders and their organizations:­­­

1. BUILD FOR LONG-TERM ROI

Legendary entrepreneur and visionary John Elkington says “business as usual” has backed civilization into a corner. The only way out? In this article, Elkington advocates for a society-wide, business-led embrace of sustainability and “regenerative capitalism.”

2. GETTING TO YOUR “WHY” REQUIRES TOUGH QUESTIONS

“Ask yourself ‘Is my business model ethical?’” says Robert E.G. Beens, CEO of Startpage, the world’s first private search engine. Even product and service design decisions should align with your purpose. From how to clarify your “why” to the impact on employee motivation, this piece in Inc. is full of advice from Breen and other executives who’ve built and led purpose-driven companies.

3. TODAY’S CUSTOMERS TAKE A HOLISTIC BRAND VIEW

Burton Snowboards says it has seen consumers evolve to a comprehensive evaluation of a brand’s values. That view is key to building customer loyalty. Are your customers and prospects in the dark about your brand values? Make sure you’re communicating them early and often, and not just waiting to reach some fabled final destination. Taken from The Outdoor Industry Playbook for Sustainable Recovery, here are some ideas to lead with your brand values.

4. DIFFERENTIATE FROM COMPETITORS AS A B CORP

Nearly 70 percent of consumers in the US and Canada think it is important a brand is sustainable or eco-friendly. This article provides four insights into why more companies are adopting the B Corps model to satisfy customer demand and sharpen their competitive profile.

5. MISSION +INNOVATION = GROWTH

Seeing a business opportunity in solving an environmental problem, Brian Brittain invented a unique paint recycling process in his Southern California garage. Now, he’s selling his upcycled paint on Amazon and has seen sales quadruple. Scaling back a product portfolio is just one of the lessons Brittain provides in this profile of his business Montage Paint.

6. DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL

Brand values build long-term resiliency. In this piece, REI explains how the onset of curbside pick-up in the pandemic sparked one of its newest sustainability initiatives and led to improved customer satisfaction.

7. TOP WAYS TO ATTRACT SUSTAINABILITY TALENT

As more companies burnish their sustainability bona fides, the competition for great talent is only intensifying. Green jobs are hot. This blog post from Sustainable Brands suggests a few ways to reduce recruiting costs and increase retention, for example, by giving employees upskill opportunities.

It’s more important than ever to stay up to date on trends and insights, considering a quarter of consumer spending globally is influenced by a company’s purpose, and 80 percent of consumers say purpose is as important to them as customer experience.

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Jim Cole Managing Editor
Means & Matters

Jim lives on the Russian River, where California wildfires, windstorms and floods have forced him to evacuate his home 4 times in the past 2 years. A fiction writer, he received the 2017 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize.

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