Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances” – Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy is based on the premise that the human person is motivated by a “will to meaning,” an inner pull to find a meaning in life. According to Frankl: “We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering”. Logotherapy “the will to meaning” is thus very relevant and significant in the work place as we experience all three indicated points during our work. We daily create “work” and do “deeds”, we work in teams of people and experience new things and naturally work is often challenging and stressful.
The work place should be a place dictated by purpose.
A great leader understands “meaning” and has the capacity to create a culture of purpose. A company with a culture of purpose is a community where groups of people understand why they do their work and value and/or understand what it contributes to broader society. Purpose at work comes in many forms. First and foremost the company’s values and mission should provide a reason for the work the employees in the company do. For example in our company’s mission we embrace our educational role of releasing potential and changing lives. Employees writing mission statements will also connect the personal sphere to the purpose of their work.
Mission statements can be powerful opportunity to connect individuals personally to the purpose of their work.
Another key factor behind having a culture of purpose at work is coaching your team to think about objectives over tasks. A task is an impersonal thing to do that distances you from its goal, whereas an objective accomplishes a specific purpose. However the most important contributing factor to an effective culture of purpose, is providing consistently the “whys” behind company and personal decisions. Decisions that force people to change the work they are doing should be explained, just like the right level of transparency should exist when a team member is let go. Providing the “whys” behind decisions, especially the most toxic ones, allows you to not only control the communication flow and reduce harmful gossip, it most of all allows you the opportunity to connect your decision to the common purpose your team has at work.
Having a culture of explaining company decisions is the most important factor behind a positive culture of purpose.
Having a culture of purpose in the work place will give you a more motivated and harmonious team. It will guide the team to push together for more win/win situations. Most of all it will act as compass in challenging times as knowing why something is worth it or needed is vital when times are tough. Teams who pull together are ones who identify with something bigger than any individual, they identify with the purpose of what they do and the difference that makes. Creating a culture of purpose is not easy, and of course is easier in some types of work like education than it is in others, but in every “deed” purpose can be found when you open your mind to doing so.
Great managers can identify and explain purpose in any deed no matter what it be.