Business is Dream Work

As business leaders we are called to lead organizations that help our employees, our customers and our stakeholders reach deep dreams to be good parents, have strong love in our relationships, to make a positive contribution to the world.

What does this have to do with business? Everything.

Consumers don't care if 70% of brands fall off the face of the earth. Which ones do they tell us should stay? Those that facilitate our dreams - positive change, well-being. Those which support our higher goals as individuals and as a collective.

We know that tapping into people's dreams leads to sales. Appeal to our desire to be thin, rich, popular, or live forever, and you increase sales. But those goals represent something deeper - the desire to have health, the means to live out our dreams, and the ability to make a lasting impact on the world while we are here. Research on meaningful brands supports the supposition that people want products and services that add value to their lives and to the world.

Likewise, employees and stakeholders want to be connected to organizations that care about their well-being. Organizations that care have better talent management outcomes and better public reputations.

Building a strong mission or purpose employees can connect with

To be positive contributors, organizations need a strong mission or purpose (the organizational dream in action). Having a clear mission is positive in many ways.

  1. It sends a strong message to the public about who the company is and how they make a positive contribution.
  2. It connects employees to a purpose that motivates and engages them.
  3. It provides direction to leadership as they form strategy and make decisions
Employees who are strongly connected to the mission of their organization have 3.5 times higher job satisfaction than those with a weak connection. They are also more than twice as likely to report that they enjoy their position and 4.5 times more likely to say that they are inspired by their jobs

I recently had the opportunity to ask about 30 HR leaders at major U.S. corporations about their missions. I was taken back to learn that most of them didn't know their company's mission, if there was one, and of those who did, it was so vanilla that it was useless for the purpose I list above. For instance, two organizations, a major national retailer and a multinational investment firm, had the mission, "To best serve the customer." A nice goal, but hardly inspiring.

Let's take a step back in our organizations and ask some big questions.

How can our organizations meet the goals our customers, employees and stakeholders have clarified for us? Aren't those, in fact our own goals as individuals?

Leadership is dream work. We are in a unique position to bring the efforts of our employees in line with the wishes of our consumers and stakeholders and our own deep values. By living a positive mission and by respecting and supporting our people, we have the power to fill big collective dreams and facilitate individual ones as well.

Start with your organization's mission. When that resonates as making a real and lasting positive contribution, the rest will flow from there.