Project Management

Align Your Team to a Common Purpose

Barry Kaplan and Jeff Manchester

As a project manager, you probably know that to get the best results your team must be aligned around a common purpose. But what does this mean?

The key is to understand that people yearn to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be part of something that matters, something significant and meaningful — because they want to feel like their lives have meaning and significance. We all do!

When we are focused on ourselves, and create a “me-centered universe,” then we feel like it’s us against the world. We become paranoid and believe everyone is out to “get me.” We create our own goals and objectives and feel a temporary sense of accomplishment as we check things off our to-do list or attain accolades and trappings of success. But in the end, the adrenaline wears off, as if it were a “fix” from our most recent accomplishment, leaving us desperately unfulfilled and on the treadmill for the next fix.

When we can connect to a greater purpose or something outside ourselves, we will be motivated on behalf of the “cause” and do whatever we can to move that cause forward. We involve ourselves with this cause because there is an alignment with our own personal sense of purpose and what’s in our core beliefs.

The CEO and senior management may identify the purpose of the organization as its …

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"Impartial observers from other planets would consider ours an utterly bizarre enclave if it were populated by birds, defined as flying animals, that nevertheless rarely or never actually flew. They would also be perplexed if they encountered in our seas, lakes, rivers and ponds, creatures defined as swimmers that never did any swimming. But they would be even more surprised to encounter a species defined as a thinking animal if, in fact, the creature very rarely indulged in actual thinking."

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