Your voice: the power of personal purpose in decision-making
It’s a melody that always needs to be played.
In the early days as a founder, your voice is the only thing you have. At first, it plays very much as a solo performance or at least a very dominant lead role, mapping out the idea, the creation, it campaigns to get you followers. Your voice contains the pitch that conveys your purpose to change something for the better, painting the picture of belief that others want to join. It is perhaps slightly raw and overloaded with tones of sometimes unfounded enthusiasm, however, it has begun to be heard and captures people to listen and believe.
The pressure of short-term goals and making things work often means that your voice, that which has enthused others and sold your idea as unique and promising, can be drowned by the operational action list that comes with gaining traction. It is replaced with the warm emotions of comradeship and the excitement created from more and more customers coming your way.
This in many ways is right, sharing the purpose and moving it from you to your team is a natural part of the growth curve of a company as more and more people are needed to carry the baton.
Be careful in totally retiring your voice as it’s the melody that always needs to be played. Like with any composition, it takes on its place in making a complete symphony, which is that of your company and therefore without it, it’s an unfinished one.
When we are faced with challenging conditions either inside or outside of our companies, be it how to be heard in a crowded marketplace or dealing with the frustrations of being stuck with growth, it’s often one step forward, two steps back. This is exactly how it was for Luce and it’s often at this point that our voice refers back to what you stand for, your values, which can sometimes be our best mentor.
In Pooja Dhingra’s HBR article “Why is entrepreneurship so hard?” she captures the point so well; “look at it when you are lost.”
Luce was lost, at least for this moment. As with many entrepreneurs we so often think the answer is in the doing and yes, temporarily what we do has an effect, yet it’s never the shift forward we are looking for.
Your voice never leaves and by asking ourselves the right questions it can again play its part. These questions reconnect us with the core of our organisation, a rod that you can supply uniqueness through, one that keeps you on a longer-term path and one that will allow you to answer the questions in the direction you need.
In chaos and confusion: use it as a mentor, sit and reflect, extend it towards the customer and ask what you intended to change and why you personally believe in it so much. Hold on to it tightly.
I once asked Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, “when you were stood there, fighting for change on optics, how did you keep to the path when all around you questioned?”
Her reply, “Because I was right.”
No other explanation required, she believed so deeply on equality of eye care: rich, poor, young old, the answer needed nothing else.
In success: you, of course, celebrate the joy of success with the whole company, However, there is no sweeter feeling of joy than when it extends right back into you, it hits the pride and fulfilment within.
In igniting others: when you translate your purpose and values and steer them into your company’s purpose and values, it ensures a greater clarity for everyone, a way for everybody to unite, to collaborate and drive a positive change into the communities you so believe you can change. It is one of the most important steps of creating a more collective approach in your company. It’s extending your beliefs to others and giving you a greater confidence that you have a team that is with you in what they do because they understand its origin.
In our customer today and long-term vision: “Risk-taking is necessary for any new venture, but entrepreneurship without a map almost always leads to chaos” Aytekin Tank, recently wrote for the entrepreneur magazine, consider the camel: 3 Consider the Camel: 3 Ways to Build a Resilient Business. He explains the natural behaviour of an entrepreneur is opportunist and in these times there has to be an element of forward-thinking vision.
With Luce’s growth story, she used her reignited voice as a rudder to take the best decisions for her company into a longer-term vision. Stretching her purpose further from herself into the organisation created the personal touch to her product and service. Then enabling her voice, though her team, partnerships and every part of the ecosystem to sing much louder in her customer community, a song that nobody else could touch because it was hers.
Reigniting your voice
How strong is your voice though your company’s purpose and values as it stands today? Does it still represent an extension of you, translating your purpose, values and what you stand for into the customer journey? And ultimately, creating a uniqueness for the customer?
Litmus test: ask yourself if your company didn’t exist what would everyone miss? Are they missing the right thing?