Korn Ferry Executive Survey: Where There”s Purpose, There”s Profit

More than two-thirds of respondents (70 percent) agreed to a great extent that there is a long-term financial benefit to companies that make strong commitments to purpose-driven leadership.

“Establishing a line of sight into organizational purpose is a leader’s job – not just once as part of a visioning exercise – but rather continually incorporating purpose into every moment and process of leadership,” said Korn Ferry Hay Group Senior Partner Kevin Cashman. “To optimally engage business performance, personal, team and organizational purpose must be aligned.”

“It’s critical for leaders to challenge the notion that ‘performance is our purpose’ and move to the more transformative principle that ‘purpose can elevate performance to new heights,'” said Cashman.

Only 3 percent of respondents said their personal principal driver at work was pay/financial rewards, while 73 percent cited that their primary driver was work that has purpose and meaning. The study found that about half of respondents feel their company values profit over the benefit the organization provides to constituents.

“In our experience, many organizations struggle with how to activate purpose to drive performance. This requires an authentic organizational purpose along with continual people practices that ignite potential,” said Korn Ferry Global Consumer Market Principal, Elaine Dinos. “Meanwhile, there is an upsurge of founder-run companies with clarity of purpose, especially in the consumer sector. Purpose is the lens for their business practices which leads to their rapid success – positive growth, profitability, and impact on the world.”

“From an agriculture company that creates ways to nourish the world, to a life sciences company that extends life, most organizations can do a better job leveraging their essential purpose,” said Korn Ferry Hay Group Senior Client Partner Janet Feldman. “Leaders whose mission it is to articulate and embody that purpose will have highly engaged and productive employees and loyal customers. In the end, purpose creates value and value drives profit.”

Korn Ferry conducted the global survey of 1,045 executives in May 2016. Following are the responses: