Once upon a time I had the best job in the world. I was hired to drive the strategy for a small business that had been failing for three years. The product mix was 80-20 in the wrong direction—almost all distribution hinging on a single proprietary offer that was good, but not good enough to keep growing the $9 million in revenues. It was like being handed a giant blank to cover in paint, and a challenge I felt more than ready for.
But that's not what made it the best job in the world. What made it the best job was the guy who ran the company, who in every action seemed to say:
"I invite you to think and to love each other and your job. Now let's go save the company."
What did that mean to an organization and the employees that he choose foster to that call? It meant that money lost its power for a new currency with a much deeper payoff: a quest, a calling, a purpose worth spending irretrievable time on.
People perform amazing feats when they have a purpose. I would know—I saw it happen. That quest got us to invest in each other and turned us from many "ones" into one community dedicated to something that no one of us could possibly build alone.
Here are the five higher benefits of having a quest.
Every person—those who conceive, design, build, buy and talk—have the same focus. People at every level are able to decide what works because everyone knows where we're going and why we're going there.
2. Peak performance
On a quest, we're either in 100 percent, or we're not. On a quest, we sort who's good at what. People who are in 100 percent are valued and their strengths are matched to the cause. People who are valued invest more, do more, and go further for the work we love.
3. Energy and tolerance
We have more patience, time and energy for problem-solving when we directly reap the benefits. What leads folks to achieve greatness isn't money. In fact, Peter Drucker proved that money is a disincentive…it has the most effect when it’s not there or too small. Greatness is found in the payoffs that a loyal community offers: acknowledgment, sense of purpose, support, feedback.
4. Compelling value
What’s more appealing than working with someone who’s not only good but also loves his or her job? Bringing logic and emotion together in a business outdistances the world view of logic alone. Competence and great execution are expected. A loyal engaged community builds in added value in how they tell the story, how they treat the product and the customers who buy it, and how they talk about the company as a value in their lives.
5. Total differentiation
A thinking culture of passionate leaders who love their job attracts others who share those values. The respect of a loyal community shows in everything it does. The values become both brand and barrier to entry.
Community builds authority. We value what we earn and what we love. That value telegraphs itself. It’s contagious. Customers, vendors and partners pick it up as well. Nothing beats the 360 degree investment of brains, money and dreams all in the same direction. Every company that wants to grow should have some of that. The value of a thinking, job-loving employee community shouts ROI and makes solid business sense.
I know it works because we went on a quest to turn around a $9 million company that was failing, and three years later sold it for $35 million.
Have you named the quest that is the currency of your business yet?