Leading with a sense of purpose at work and at home

American Standard and Hewlett-Packard create win-win scenarios by involving their employees in a meaningful “culture of purpose.”

Kenyan farm workers.
Hewlett-Packard is partnering with Kiva, a non-profit that helps individuals make microloans to low-income entrepreneurs. (Image of Kenyan farm workers via Kiva)

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2015 — It’s good to feel inspired. Inspiration stimulates and energizes us. It gives us a sense of purpose and has the ability to create a culture in our work and home environment that compels us to take action in things we believe in.

I often wonder about my own purpose in life, both professionally and personally. What about you? Ask yourself:

  • What is my life’s purpose?
  • How can I contribute?
  • What legacy do I want to leave?

Are you an employee or a business owner? Are your personal values aligned with your organization’s values? Does your business reflect your own values?

What are you and your family involved in? A community project, perhaps?

Being a curious person my whole life and a sponge for learning, I have continued to ask myself the following two questions as far back in time as I can remember.

  • What am I here for?
  • What’s my purpose?

I recently came across an article reprinted in the Harvard Business Review entitled “A Company’s Good Deeds Can Energize Employees.” The author, Christoph Lueneburger, related two stories about businesses that enjoyed wonderful success because they aligned their business with purpose. I found these examples inspiring and would like to share them with you.

Lueneburger writes about one company that focused on saving lives as a key part of its business. This focus resulted in a product that accomplished that objective while at the same time reaping huge rewards for the business. Here’s an excerpt:

“When Jay Gould became CEO of American Standard in January 2012, the 136-year-old sanitation company was bankrupt. ‘My job,’ Gould says, ‘was to get us back on track.’ He did so by emphasizing the organization’s longstanding purpose… reaching out to places where there was no plumbing and sanitation, therefore creating a literal life-and-death issue.”

American Standard teamed up with another company and

  • “…devised a plastic toilet pan that can be easily connected to a common latrine pit, providing a tight seal to keep out flies and prevent hazardous cross-contamination. The company then launched Flush for Good, its first national advertising campaign in nearly a decade, which promised that for every Champion brand toilet sold, it would donate a latrine cover to combat disease in the developing world.
  • “Champion sales increased by 62 percent in 2013, and over a 20-month stretch, American Standard quadrupled its earnings. Gould says the 180 percent quantified improvement in employee involvement is just as significant. ‘When I first got here [at American Standard], you saw people walking with their heads down in the hallways. Now you can feel the energy and optimism inside our company.’”

Lueneburger also describes the work of Hewlett-Packard’s new CEO, who is currently restructuring this key technology company and committing to a “culture of purpose.”

“Before Meg Whitman became its CEO in September 2011, Hewlett-Packard felt rudderless. Whitman has since restructured the company, including separating it into two new publicly traded companies. But she also committed to strengthening HP’s culture of purpose.

“The company launched “Matter to a Million” – a global partnership between its Foundation and Kiva, a non-profit that helps individuals make microloans to low-income entrepreneurs who then become engines of economic progress in some of the world’s most impoverished regions.

“Instead of Whitman simply presenting a check to a microfinance institution, HP gave its 270,000-strong workforce the power to direct the donations. Each got a $25 Kiva credit to lend as they saw fit, and in the first six months, more than 115,000 employees made loans totaling more than $5.5 million.

“Some might call this initiative a noble but imprudent distraction for a company still striving to fully right itself. But Matter to a Million is building transformative energy across HP. The value of employees who feel this way is incalculable.”

Lueneburger concludes that “Flush for Good and Matter to a Million are prime examples of how to build a better company by building a better world. Even in adversity, leaders must find the courage to pursue cultures of purpose because there is no surer way to energize employees and unleash the forces that drive business success.”

You, too, can create a culture of purpose at work and at home. When there is a purpose in work and in life, people become engaged.

When you are engaged in and believe in what you are doing, you are also discovering genuine meaning in your life.

Life is indeed full of possibilities. Start digging!


For more Information contact:

Susan Commander Samakow, PCC, CPCC
Certified Business, Life & Leadership Coach
Focusing on Confidence & Resilience Strategies, Life & Career Transition, & Business & Leadership
Certified Mediator

www.selftalkcoach.com         [email protected]
Twitter: @SelfTalkCoach

301-706-7226  or 703-574-0039


Ask Susan about the Stress Reducing techniques she teaches: EFT (Tapping) and Breathing Exercises.

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