We chatted with Brendon Gale, Chief Executive Officer of the Richmond Football Club, about how a moving personal experience inspired him to go on the journey with his Club to discover and deeply embed a compelling and shared purpose.
Many organisations have a vision, purpose and values on the website and some even have it emblazoned on posters on their walls.
But not many leaders of those same organisations understand the importance and the huge benefits that come from connecting people to, deeply embedding and living their vision, purpose and values.
This is why we really enjoyed talking to Brendon about why he is deeply committed to embedding purpose and doing that with such commitment and in such an authentic way. The benefits to the Club and its many stakeholders have been immense as they have all made "connecting to thrive and win" their way of life.
Here are Brendon's responses to the four questions we asked him about discovering and living Richmond Football Club's purpose.
I was privileged to take an off-season trip to Israel several years ago to meet with government, business and military leaders. I kept wondering how a people and a country with so little - with so few natural resources in the middle of a desert and surrounded by enemies - could achieve so many great things over a sustained period. This is not a comment on the political situation in Israel, but what became clear to me was that these people were bound together by a deep sense of purpose that they were able to draw upon and which guided and sustained them.
I wanted our Club to develop something similar for our coaches, players and all staff that would unite us and provide us with that something deep down that we could draw upon during the inevitable challenges of elite football. Importantly, we needed to define a purpose that could resonate throughout the entire breadth of the Club. It had to represent something that we could all find some personal meaning in, regardless of whether we worked in the performance, commercial, community or administrative sides of the business.
We did a review of our previously stated mission. It covered what we believed it needed to but we found that it didn't really resonate with all our players and staff. It was too wordy and disconnected from the way we carried out our activities.
We initially engaged our board and leaders in a discussion about purpose and how we could discover a purpose that would provide our employees, as well as our members and other stakeholders, with something that they could draw strength from and that would capture the whole Club. We then engaged widely with all employees and came up with our purpose of: "Connecting to thrive and win".
It was clear, simple and memorable. And it captured everything we do as a Club, on and off the field.
At the same time we re-launched our behavioural framework around our four values: Aware, United, Relentless and Discipline. These were also updated to consider the whole Club.
We decided not to change our vision which is simply to be: "A strong and bold premiership Club". Our purpose replaced our mission.
Our purpose, in conjunction with our vision and values, has further united us and strengthened our culture. It is helping us to develop that "something" deep down inside that will bind us together. It also provides something to guide us, to draw upon and to sustain us in difficult times.
We are so much clearer now as to why we exist, where we are going and the way we want our people to carry themselves.
All our people connect to thrive and win. They all play their role in service of the team. We celebrate their uniqueness and their individual contributions, and we help them all to thrive and win as individuals and for our team. We constantly talk about connecting and how that helps us all to thrive and win together. That applies on the field but also, for example, to how we implement our indigenous programs to connect communities and help them to thrive and win.
Linking everything back to our purpose has been very powerful. Our staff are much more engaged, they feel much more connected, they contribute greater discretionary effort and all that helps us deliver better results.
It is incredibly important that your people know why your organisation exists, where it is going and how you want your people to carry themselves. Engaging them in the process of discovering your organisation's purpose and then embedding and living that every day will help you strengthen your culture and engagement, enhance unity and build greater organisational capacity, resilience and sustainability.
Make sure your purpose resonates with all your staff and stakeholders. Avoid the use of fancy words, long-winded statements or corporate speak. Engage your staff in the process of discovering or re-discovering your purpose - it is your organisation's purpose, not your own purpose or the leadership team's purpose.
Link everything you do back to your purpose as that will bring it to life. Ensure that you, your leadership team and other purpose champions continue to prosecute the case - and most importantly, do all that in a very authentic way.