Want to change the world? Start by looking in. | Gagen MacDonald

Insights & Events / Blog

Want to change the world? Start by looking in.

Jan 08, 2015

We tend to think about corporations as these separate entities, when in fact they are simply a community of individuals who have come together to serve a common purpose. If you want to drive change in your organization, you have to start with individuals—the potential of an organization to transform is directly proportional to the capacity and commitment of its leaders to embrace personal change. So Dan Pink is on to something when he talks about the importance of purpose.A sense of purpose can be the driving force that translates individual insights into organizational action. I’ve seen the chain reaction happen—one leader’s personal insight and commitment inspire another leader and then another. So I’d like to put forth an idea for our community to discuss: Creating the space where that kind of groundswell can happen is a key element of every leader’s job.

Recently, I had the chance to partner with a health foundation in the Southwest border region. The foundation has brought together a group of amazing individuals—leaders from both non- and for-profit organizations that impact population health—to address a daunting landscape of change in healthcare access and serious social determinants including high rates of obesity, teen pregnancy and mental health issues. In the past, these same leaders often competed for resources. They rely on the same community of people for support, engagement and, in many cases, funding.

In coming together, the group reached an important insight: the need to let go of individual agendas and objectives in order to have an even greater collective impact. Discussions became animated as they began to explore ways they could improve health in the region: Could they share resources and combine their efforts to attract and involve the broader community? Was it possible to identify a bigger goal for the region that still supported their organizational missions? What support could they offer one another in pursuit of their individual organization’s success? The notion that the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts emerged a central theme for their time together. Today they are working to create a regional vision for public health.

In what ways are you seeing the power of a common sense of purpose in your organization? Any examples you’d like to share with our Let Go & Lead community?

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