This blogpost is part of a new series that I call, Conversations Among Friends. It’s a series that provides an opportunity for me to chat with or interview people that I consider to be offering potent messages and empowering perspectives in these times of deep change.
In the first episode of Conversations Among Friends, I had the pleasure of chatting with Sara Price about leadership.
Sara is a rebellious optimist who founded her company, Actually, to prove to the world that purpose + profit are not mutually exclusive. She works with values-driven, purpose-led entrepreneurs helping them to develop the right communications, mindset, and support to grow their businesses and their impact. Because together, she believes, we can change the world.
A Brilliant Business Strategy
Knowing that Sara has decades of experience in politics, campaigning, PR, and communications, I was curious to find out what values-driven and purpose-led leadership means to her:
“It means that your values and your purpose are the lens through which you see every part of your business. They create a kind of matrix for decision-making. Whenever you are presented with a decision, whenever you’re presented with an opportunity or a choice, you run it through that matrix. You run it through the filter of: ‘Is this aligned with my purpose? Does this align with my values?’ If the answer is no, then it’s a no-brainer. It’s a fast, easy decision to make.”
This is music to my ears. One aim of the work I do around values, and more precisely soul’s values, is to provide people with a guide, a centre-point, or in Sara’s words, a matrix for decision-making.
Being a Visionary
I asked why she considers it so important to have values-driven and purpose-led leadership in a business?
“There are so many reasons but for starters, your vision, your sense of purpose, is part of what attracts the right people towards you. If you’ve got a really clear sense of what your purpose is and you’re able to communicate that effectively, then ‘your people’, those who share your vision, who are inspired by it, come towards you, they form part of your community. They become your tribe, your team, your potential clients, your clients, your advocates, your ambassadors. So it’s hugely important in attracting the right people towards your business.”
As she has experience from politics and the commercial world, I was curious to learn if she has seen much values-driven and purpose-led leadership over the course of her career.
“Until relatively recently, it was definitely the exception as opposed to the rule. The way that we structure our politics, the way that we structure our commercial space, the way that we structure, in many ways, our society, doesn’t naturally lead to a prioritisation of values and purpose. So within our politics, the priority is on power. Within our commercial landscape, the priority is on profit. Within our society, the priority seems to be on competition and individual achievement.”
It’s Not Binary
Sara’s vision is a world in which every business is led by purpose. Sadly there is a belief (I suspect most of us know it all too well), that you can only have purpose or profit, not both.
“In commerce, the desire to live up to your values and your principles, to abide by your sense of purpose and your vision, versus delivering a profit for shareholders – this has often been seen as a kind of either/or decision, and so many leaders plump for profit before purpose and values.”
But Sara doesn’t believe that it’s an either/or decision. Her belief is that your purpose, your principles, and your values, are what actually help you to create a truly profitable business.
She continues, “It’s a false choice between profit and purpose, leaders choose profit because they accept the choice but it’s not binary. This is not an either/or situation. You can have profit and purpose and values.”
Luckily, it seems we are approaching a tipping point. Individuals are making choices from a more conscious place. Values-driven and purpose-led businesses are becoming increasingly popular. Consumers want to buy their services from organisations that share their values and whose vision is in support of a kinder, more generous, more sustainable, more compassionate world. The division between purpose and profit is disappearing!
In my last question, I asked Sara where values-driven and purpose-led leadership can take us if we choose it. Earlier in our conversation, she had mentioned that there’s a real opportunity for purpose-led entrepreneurs and business owners to step up and inspire people with a sense of optimism and collaboration.
“Purpose-led business owners tend to be optimists, and they tend to be focused on progress and positive outcomes. I believe that the world would be a different place if we got rid of those false choices [purpose vs profit], if people genuinely knew and believed that they could lead from their values, that they could pursue their purpose and make a living, create wealth for others as well as for themselves. The change that we could bring about in society is just incalculable. It takes us to a completely different world. It takes us to a place where we do live in harmony, we are living in a way that’s sustainable, we’re not destroying the planet from beneath our own feet.”
We concluded our chat agreeing that holding the vision and insisting on the continued application of values is what really good leadership looks like. I asked Sara if this is what soulful leadership looks like. She nodded, and then she added, “It’s aligned leadership”.
What a perfect note to end on.
If you want to learn more about Sara and her company Actually, you can find them here: https://actually.world/.
A closing note…
Finishing this post the day after the 2020 US election (no final result yet!), and having observed what has been going on in the ranks of power for most of this year…if there’s ever been a time for values-driven and purpose-led leadership, it is now.
If this post has stirred some questions, thoughts, insights, or ideas, let’s chat. You can connect with me here.