Sharon Bishop: Purpose - a unifying force in the age of uncertainty
New Year resolutions are as fashionable as ever. At this time of year there’s a huge amount of pressure on us all to change things, in the way we live our lives or more widely as a society.Pick up a newspaper and we’re besieged by pundits and lifestyle gurus urging us to alter our diet, or the way we exercise.
This time around, many commentators have also pleaded with us to be more considerate of others, to be more forgiving of those who hold different opinions to ourselves, and to be less strident on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. I couldn’t agree more.
This pressure to change how we live comes at a time of huge uncertainty. The pace of change in our lives is relentless, and leaders, whether in politics or business or other institutions, often seem as flummoxed by it as everyone else.
It’s human nature to desire certainty, yet in a world which is, daily, more interactive and change-able, leaders find it almost impossible to guarantee it, making us more angst-ridden than ever. Managing the change vs certainty paradox is something I’ve reflected upon as a business leader, and I think part of the answer lies in providing our business stakeholders with a clear sense of purpose.
Organisations that understand where their roots lie, what those roots are, and what their purpose is, are more likely to withstand the pressures of change and uncertainty, and also give their employees a port in a storm too.
Purpose is the lodestone that helps us leverage change, as opposed to being defeated by it, and ensures the big investment decisions we make – say around technology – give our customers ease, certainty and peace of mind of helping make their insurance more affordable.
So when every Tom, Dick and Harry is telling us to change our lives, my New Year resolution is to be enthusiastic in sticking to the knitting and most importantly to encourage both kindness and humour. For me, these attributes when combined with a real belief in what we do for customers, is a unifying force in the age of uncertainty.