How Purpose Pumps Energy Into Your Strategic Plans



One of my Vistage CEO Peer Advisory Group members is an award-winning, nationally recognized leader in the healthcare field. She founded a nonprofit that connects healthcare providers and insurance companies to pull together electronic health records, so the providers would have a fuller picture of a person’s health and health history.


She joined my Vistage group in 2015 because, as the leader of her organization, she was expected to bring answers to her board rather than look to the board for answers. She did not have another forum where she could talk to high-level peers. The for-profit world was the model she wanted to learn from because she is interested in efficiency and utilization of resources. She needed a place to discover new solutions to the challenges of growing an excellent business and our Vistage group was her answer.


She has always been very clear about her purpose, which is to use her skills and gifts to improve the lives of others. That drive is why she is so successful.


Powered By Purpose

I’ve always been really passionate about studying one’s purpose and helping people achieve their potential. I believe this is what should be energizing about strategic planning. People get excited when they feel they are not only making a difference, but making a difference in the areas they feel are their unique calling or purpose. Strategic planning and execution is not just a process – it’s a way to fulfill someone’s potential. That mindset will provide the energy, motivation, and passion to do the mundane work often required.


Strategic planning is a subject I know quite a bit about. In addition to leading Vistage CEO Peer Advisory Groups, I provide strategic planning meeting facilitation through my consultancy, Advantech Business Builders, Inc. I work with clients to achieve greater team clarity and alignment around their purpose. All told, teams become more effective working together, executing the plan, and achieving the company goals faster.


I’d like to share another one of my favorite success stories. It involves a Vistage member who joined my group after buying into a health and wellness business at 51-years-old. He had a very clear goal that by age 59 he wanted to coach college-level women’s softball. He had been a high school coach and loved it. With the help of our peer group, he implemented best practices such as strategic planning, clarity in terms of alignment, accountability systems, and meeting rhythms with his senior team. However, his most powerful driving force became his purpose.


As his coach, one of my techniques to keep him motivated to do the hard work is to continually connect him to his long-term vision. I often reminded him about his goal to coach college softball during our monthly one-to-one meetings.


The result? He grew the business 100 percent and sure enough, by age 57, he sold it and became a college-level softball coach. His clear goal going in was very impactful to run and grow the business so he could afford to sell it, cash out, and live his dream.


If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around executing a strategic plan, particularly one that puts your purpose into focus, here is a jumping off point. The following steps will help you kick start the rollout:


Strategic Clarity – identify goals + align around your purpose

Creating a strategic plan starts from the inside, and should be a collaborative process with your senior team.


The process I’ve seen work best includes:

  • Clarity around core values: guiding principles that best describe how your organization operates in everything you do.

  • Clarity around purpose and mission: describes who you serve and why you do what you do.

  • Clarity around value proposition: what unique attributes do you offer that fulfill your customers’ needs and therefore influence their decision to choose you over competitors?

  • Clarity around position within the market: a trusty ol’ SWOT analysis.

  • Clarity around your vision (Author Jim Collins coined the term your “BHAG” - Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and where you want to be in 3 to 5 years: determine future goals and manifest destiny.


Aligning your strategy around your purpose is a near foolproof, and surprisingly straightforward, approach to execution. Strategic clarity makes way for establishing a framework, better communication, and ensuring your plan remains relevant in a changing environment. The future is unpredictable, but this method can help you lean into the angst when the going gets tough (or mundane) while increasing your odds of success.


If you have questions about how to align your strategic initiatives with your purpose, drop me a line. I can provide personalized guidance on how to put some energy behind your plans.



About the Author: I lead peer groups of high-performing CEOs and business owners for Vistage Worldwide. I also provide executive coaching and strategic planning meeting facilitation services through my company Advantech Business Builders, Inc. I can be reached at Scott.Thurber@VistageChair.com.

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Scott Thurber

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