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Good business starts with purpose

Building a purpose-driven business doesn’t happen overnight, but Insight Global shows how to focus on the why

Good business starts with purpose

Much has been said about the movement author Simon Sinek created, “Start with the why.” The core principle is simple: People won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the why behind it.

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At Insight Global, we call the why “our purpose.”

Our purpose is built around developing our people so they can have a larger impact on the world around them. We’ve found that when a company’s purpose is centered around people and their development, they’re happier, more productive, and ready to do more good in the world. The business results generated from a strong company purpose aren’t too shabby either.

I’m convinced that if you get purpose right, the business will move forward. If a company gets lost in what it’s selling, rather than why it’s selling it, then it loses its soul, and its people follow.

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Sounds dark, right? But would you want to follow a company without a soul? Do you currently?

As a national leader in the staffing services industry, we help businesses find and ultimately place talent. On the other side of this equation, we help people find opportunities within these businesses.

Our purpose drives Insight Global to develop our people personally, professionally, and financially so they can be the light to the world around them. That purpose runs marrow deep in the company.

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ARE YOU BEING INTENTIONAL ABOUT YOUR VALUES?

In 2017, our culture at Insight Global was broken—the wolf was at the door. It was taking the average person twice as long to get to the same level of productivity as it had five years prior. And we were losing people faster than we could hire: We hired 1,600 recruiters and lost 1,100. Yeah, it was bad. High turnover was kind of our thing.

Certainly, those were numbers we didn’t want to see. We began to dig deep and turn our heads internally to find what—at the core—was the problem. And you know what we found? The problem was us. We had done a poor job of being intentional about our values and our purpose. As a senior leadership team, we were forced to look in the mirror. And so, we did.

We shared, opened up, argued, and debated issues “eyeball to eyeball,” as author Jim Collins calls it—about where we go from here and how to find our way out. That is how we landed on living by our purpose, discovering our identity in our shared values, and investing in our people.

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Once we got locked into our values and our purpose, we made hardwiring them into the company our only business priority. We constantly asked ourselves: “how do we make our values real and not just words on a wall?” It was not someone else’s problem to fix; it was leadership’s problem, and we knew that if we became obsessed at the top, adoption of the values would work their way down. We bet that business results would follow.

Turns out, by investing in our purpose and developing our people to become the best versions of themselves, they, in turn, took care of our customers, consultants, and candidates in ways that far exceeded anyone’s expectations.

From 2017 to 2020 we grew the company from $1.9 billion to $3.5 billion, including 8% organic revenue growth amid the pandemic.

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MIX PURPOSE WITH GENUINE LEADERSHIP

While a company’s purpose and values may be foundational, if they’re not embodied at the top of the organization, they have no shot to succeed in driving the business. They simply become hollow words.

I’ve heard a lot of leaders say that they “care about culture” and that they “want to drive change.” While this may be true to them, there must be a link between safety and trust. In other words, for change to come about and the right culture to take shape, people must trust that it is a safe enough environment to say the things that need to be said and make the changes that need to be made. The team is only as safe and as trusting as their leader enables them to be.

As a leader, it’s important to understand what gives you purpose. For me, I find a lot of purpose in encouraging others. I set a goal to call, email, or text at least five people in the company every day to check in on them, ask them questions, or congratulate them on an achievement. It’s comfortable territory for me to reach out and engage with others, because I like to encourage. The point is to execute efforts as a leader that are inherent and authentic to you.

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YOU DO YOU

While purpose is an extremely critical fiber that should be threaded throughout every business, it’s important to note that not every business should have the same purpose. Find your purpose that is inherent to your organization, to what you do, and of course why you do it.

And don’t compare yourself to others. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It steals us away from the satisfaction we need in our own lives, both at work and at home.

Be genuine. Find your purpose. Live it every day. You’re going to love the results.

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Bert Bean is the CEO of Insight Global, a leader in the staffing services industry.

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