Got purpose WEBRecently an executive I was coaching said that when she told her father she was going into banking, his reply was, “You need to go into a field that helps people and can save the world.” These types of messages can roll around in our heads all our lives. They cause us to doubt ourselves, to second guess our decisions, and they kill our motivation. Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry, wrote an article entitled, “Waking Up With No Alarm.” The article addresses how a person who is truly excited about his/her job doesn’t need an alarm clock to start the day.

There is so much concern today about disengagement, demotivation, tangled relationships, the inability to set and achieve goals, and feelings of having no power. Managers are unsure of how to motivate their reports. What’s the point, or better yet, what’s the connection?

Mr. Burnison suggests that excitement about one’s job begins with leadership and cites an earlier work by one of the founders of Korn Ferry, David McClelland. In one of his books, the late   Mr. McClelland suggests that there are three elements that impact behavior in the workplace. These are:

  • Achievement
  • Affiliation
  • Power

How can organizations expect to succeed with employees who lack the ability or the will to achieve, to influence others, and have some level of power? Obviously, it’s not going to happen. Meanwhile, back to the executive mentioned earlier. I relayed to her how I had relied on banking to get out of a tough spot once. Another time, I had to rely on an extended stay hotel as I was virtuously homeless. Had it not been for these two industries and the organizations that were there for me in my time of need, I would have been in a real jam.

Think: higher purpose. Now think about how you can convey the higher purpose of your industry or organization to your people? In his article, Mr. Burnison states, “Being an effective leader starts with knowing how to inspire people…” Your inspirational message needs to be driven throughout your organization. This is motivation at its best. This is what drives people to want to achieve, to have a meaningful affiliation or influence on others’ lives and it provides a sense of power over their own destiny.

Driving a shared vision throughout your company will help lead people with purpose and meaning. Purpose and meaning is what makes us all jump out of bed in the morning. No pesky, nerve rattling alarm clock required.    

If you would like to chat about meaningful employee engagement, call 404-320-7834 for a 30-minute, no obligation chat; or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

Graphic Credit: Copyright: Gustavo Frazao          

CEO, Employee Engagement,