Leaders are Making A Difference is for Leaders who want to align their leadership purpose and/or the purpose of their organisation in order to drive focus, engagement and performance success, for themselves, their organisations and the communities in which they live and operate.

Claire is an Organisational Architect and Coach with an Executive Director background of many years in diverse sectors now working with a diverse range of clients with one thing in common - an ambition to Make A Difference.

At ‘Leaders are Making a Difference’ we enable you to align everyone with the organisation’s purpose, facilitating the removal of barriers and the introduction of enablers to improve performance. Together with the Executive and Leadership team we create a blueprint for the organisation that systematically connects everything back to the purpose including the behaviour of the leaders. The outcome is sustainable improvements in long-term performance and an organisation that learns from its success. The approach includes enabling leaders to identify their individual purpose and check for alignment with that of the organisation.

Purpose driven organisations pursue their purpose and values with disciplined focus and are led by individuals, who do the same. They do what they say they will, they are who they say they are and we trust them and want to work with them as employees and partners. We want to invest in them and buy from them.

People want to trust people and organisations. Anthropology describes the consistent and basic need people have for being part of a tribe. It is our basic human instinct. In the 21st century we have a vast choice of tribes we want to belong to. We choose, as we always have, on the basis of trust. We consider which tribe and tribal leaders we believe have a purpose that we want to contribute to and values we have in common. We want to believe they have the disciplined focus to achieve the vision of success they describe to us. When these things are aligned we will be committed to them and give our very best to them. When we are giving our best to an organisation and leaders we trust and when we see our contribution make a difference we feel happy – this is success.

Simon Sinek describes tribal leadership in his book, ‘Leaders eat last’, where he also shows the link between authentic leadership and our motivations created by chemical reactions in us. He describes how positive hormones are released in response to having clear clarity of purpose, vision and strategic goals (Dopamine), having values which connect people with a sense of belonging and where people support each other (Oxytocin) and feeling recognition and pride when contributing to the team effort (Serotonin).

The importance of Purpose – why we exist – ‘The Golden Thread

A stated purpose serves to inspire and focus our efforts. This is true of an organisation’s purpose and our own individual purpose and alignment of the two is critical to optimise success. Whatever an organisation’s goals and strategy it is the people that do the work that make the difference between success and failure. People are not motivated making profit for shareholders - they are motivated by meaningful work that benefits others and gives them a sense of fulfilment.

Purpose also provides an opportunity to create strategic focus as well as influencing employees when making the small decisions they face several times a day.

Having a stated purpose as the strategic anchor for an organisation creates a form of stability in an uncertain world where strategies have to be dynamic, adjusting based on changing contexts, whereas purpose remains stable.

Over the past five years there has been widespread interest in purpose-driven leadership from academics, business leaders, psychologists and doctors. Findings demonstrate significantly improved business performance and a greater sense of personal success, health and wellbeing. Purpose is being proposed as creating the true north in the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world we face today. Whilst many organisations have a stated purpose this is not always represented in the experiences of employees, partners and customers. For this to be the case strategic alignment is required. A key aspect of strategic alignment is the alignment of the individual purpose of the leaders.

Your purpose is why you exist. It derives from your passions, values and strengths - your unique value.

Examples of Purpose

Southwest Airlines

"Connect people to what's important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel."
John Lewis

"The partnership's ulimate purpose is thehappiness of all its members, through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful businesss."

"To Live and deliver WOW"
Arriva Trains Wales

"Connecting people & communities to what is important to them."

The importance of Values – what is important to us

Values are an individual’s or an organisation’s essential and enduring traits - a small set of general guiding principles which they live by. True values should not be compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.

When an organization or an individual consistently behaves in a way that is congruent with their values they have great power to motivate and inspire. They create belief in individuals and organisations.

Purpose driven organisations don’t merely declare their values they take active steps to make them pervasive throughout the organisation. Leaders are recruited where the organisation’s values are aligned with their individual values. Well known successful companies acknowledge their values as a significant driver of their success. They express them in different ways sometimes as values, sometimes as principles or beliefs, sometimes in a list and sometimes as a statement. The approach doesn’t matter what does matter is if they are congruent with purpose and how
they are consciously applied as a framework from which the organisation makes all it’s decisions.

The danger is, if not properly defined, you end up with a set of words on posters, coffee cups and mouse mats. They may look and sound fantastic, but the question is “are they driving the desired behaviours in the business every day?” To ensure the answer to that question is “yes”, they need proper definition - what do the values really mean? A much better value is qualified with a story or an example of leaders and employees demonstrating them in practice. They need stories, both written and perhaps filmed, showing an example of the value in action. Through this process, the exception becomes the norm and culture begins to see tangible, positive change. For example: at Dixons Stores Group we communicated stories of people demonstrating the values through the intranet and the company magazine and through recognition schemes and as part of the performance review process.

"I've always loved butterflies, because they
remind us that it's never too late to transform ourselves."

Drew Barrymore

Examples of values

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has a long and proud tradition of adhering to its core values, which are expressed in its Credo as responsibilities to: The people who use their products and services, to employees, to communities and to stockholders.

It was an unprecedented act of loyalty to core values when Johnson & Johnson ordered a massive, $100 million recall of Tylenol following reports of cyanide poisonings in 1982. While it would arguably have been easier (and cheaper) to deal with lawsuits from the poisoning deaths on a case-by-case basis, Johnson & Johnson wasted no time pulling its top-selling product off of store shelves across the country – even though the contaminations were later found to have occurred only in Chicago.


Zappos expresses its values as a set of 10 statements and for each statement there are detailed descriptions that explain what is meant by the value and why it is important to achieve the Zappos purpose. Employees are encouraged to identify any changes the company needs to make to ensure it reflects the 10 values.

Deliver wow through service

Embrace and drive change

Create a little fun and weirdness

Be adventurous, creative and open-minded

Pursue growth and learning

Build open and honest relationship with communication

Build a positive team and family spirit

Do more with less

Be passionate and determined

Be humble

For example: All employees are regularly invited to family fun days. All employees have their own registration plate with their name on and this goes with them wherever they sit so that people can address them by their first name. The offices are all open plan with the same desk space for the CEO as the person answering the phones. Employees on the phones are expected to help a customer with any query even if it has nothing to do with Zappos (E.g.: Help with ordering a pizza. A story told to me on my recent visit there).

South West Airlines

South West Airlines ranks first in ‘on-time arrivals’ and baggage handling and has the least number of consumer complaints per passenger filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation. It gets its planes in and out of the gate faster than other major U.S. airlines and serves more passengers per employee.
Work the Southwest Way

Safety and Reliability
Friendly Customer Service
Friendly Customer Service
Fun-LUVing Attitude

Have FUN
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Maintain perspective
Celebrate successes
Enjoy your work
Be a passionate Team-player
Southwest Airlines

Follow The Golden Rule
Adhere to the Principles
Treat others with respect
Put others first
Be egalitarian
Demonstrate proactive Customer Service
Embrace the SWA Family
Warrior Spirit

Work hard
Desire to be the best
Be courageous
Display urgency

Arriva Trains Wales

We care for people’s safety and well-being

We are enthusiastic in what we do

We inspire others by doing what’s right

We deliver what we promise

We commit to a better tomorrow

Arriva Trains co created their values with their leadership team of about 30 people after the Executive Board created the organisational purpose as part of a strategy review process. The leadership team worked collectively on examples of the underpinning behaviours that demonstrate the values and these are to be communicated throughout the organisation with people pledging to commit to them.


Respect for the individual

Strive for excellence

Service to our customers

These values are a more focused set than the original five I was brought up with in the 90’s. Nevertheless these values were core within those original five and my experience of values at ASDA was that they truly were at the heart of how the organization ran. As a Regional HR Manager and as a Store Manager I used the values mechanically at first to make sure everyone was clear as to exactly why we made the decisions we made and did the things we did. They steered recruitment and selection and performance reviews. Eventually the values just became the unconscious way in which we operated.

In Jim Collins books ‘Built to last’, ‘Good to Great’, and ‘Great by choice’ he found that the most successful and sustainably companies selected people more on their fit with core values and purpose than on skills and knowledge. They also held core values as a cornerstone of their approach to strategic choices and core values were an outcome of what he describes as ‘confronting the brutal facts’ to clarify what is truly core to create success.

The importance of Purpose – why we exist – ‘The Golden Thread

A stated vision builds a multi-dimensional picture of what will be happening in the organisation at a point in time when it is playing out its purpose.

It needs to be compelling in the way it is communicated. It needs to give enough detail to be clear and ensure all people create the same image in their mind so that they can start to identify with it and identify how they can contribute to the actions that will be required to achieve it.
Southwest Airlines

"To be the World’s Most Loved, Most Flown, and Most profitable Airline."

"To be Britain’s best-value retailer exceeding customer needs always.”

"One day, 30% of all retail transactions in the US will be online. People will buy from the company with the best service and the best selection. Zappos.com will be that online store.”
Work the Southwest Way

"Passionate, Proud People delivering excellent service – every time."
For a vision to be meaningful for people they need to be encouraged to create shared mental models of the future at an agreed point in time. I have seen this done in a variety of ways depending on the creativity of the people involved. It has been done in words, pictures and video, all telling stories of the future. At Arriva Trains Wales the Leadership team created newspaper front pages headlining the stories that would be told in 5 years time.

The Importance of Disciplined Focus

Disciplined focus is what is required to play out the purpose and achieve the vision. It is the discipline of strategic decision-making and robust implementation of these decisions and monitoring and measuring strategic outcomes. It is all too common for organisations to try to do too much and fail to deliver anything sustainable. Discipline is required in choosing the strategic priorities that will give the best chance of achieving the vision.

It is easy to get side tracked through the period of transition towards the vision. Leaders can come and go and yet purpose provides an anchor for the vision and the strategic priorities. It is only significant internal or external context changes that should change the strategic choices and the vision – purpose should remain the same regardless.

In all Jim Collins books there is a consistent theme of disciplined focus and a culture of discipline. He says that ‘when there is a culture of discipline you can give people freedom to experiment and find their own best path to results’. He talks of ‘fanatic discipline’ in ‘Great by Choice’. He describes a success factor of companies achieving 10x better performance than their peer group by exemplifying ‘the 20 mile march concept’. The concept is about having concrete, clear, intelligent and rigorously pursued performance mechanisms to keep you on track and having unwavering commitment to high performance in difficult conditions and having the discipline of holding back in good conditions.

For example Southwest airlines: It demands of itself that it achieves a profit every year and even when from 1990 to 2003 when the US airline industry achieved a profit in just 6 out of 14 years, Southwest achieved a profit every year. Southwest had the discipline to hold back in good times so as not to extend beyond its ability to preserve profitability and its culture and instead made steady and consistent progress where others were boom and bust.

The importance of Contribution – making a difference

One of the biggest drivers of engagement for an employee or any other stakeholder is the opportunity to use their unique talents to make a difference to the world around them, in other words to achieve purpose. This is demonstrated by the amount of time people spend outside work doing things without pay as an incentive. Their reward is in knowing that they have contributed to something or someone they believe is worthy of them.

Unfortunately many organisations do not make it easy for people to contribute their best self. In many cases employees will describe how the organisation is preventing them contributing effectively. This can be by having them in the wrong job, not giving them the right tools, making them follow the wrong policies and processes. Employees need to work in a culture where they are empowered to break through and break down the barriers to their optimum contribution, a culture where ideas and feedback are encouraged.

If you want to align your leadership purpose and/or the purpose of your organisation in order to drive focus, engagement and performance success, for you, you organisation and the communities in which you live and operate get in touch and we can go MAD together

For more information contact enquiries@leadersaremad.co.uk to find out more