Most of us have experienced working with – as an employee, supplier or client – companies or visiting destinations with a soul, as well as working with companies or visiting destinations without one. The difference is not easily visible, but it can be perceived by sensing the spirit behind the people’s behaviour.
When human relationships are only based on rights and obligations, often without a win-win approach, people work because they have to, rather than because they want to. They are demotivated and are unlikely to bring in any value beyond what they are paid for. In these types of firms and places, financial KPIs are the only metrics taken into account to measure the health of the organisation, and social problems more or less related to its operations are most likely disregarded or overlooked. These types of places have no soul.
Sometimes there are organisations created with a purpose beyond the financial success thanks to a visionary leader who thought that caring about the common good was key to business profitability, but also because it was appealing to him/her and many other stakeholders, and so this vision is a powerful inner source of motivation.
However, many of these organisations born with a noble soul have lost it over time: sometimes they have been bought by a larger corporation without the same sense of purpose; have new shareholders that do not share the same values, or because the founder has been replaced by a leader with a different vision. And when this happens, all stakeholders notice it to some extent as the passion, generosity and purpose that used to drive the organisation disappears, and the relationships turn out to be colder, rather short-term oriented and calculative, and decisions are based on financial KPIs only.
Instead, in organisations with a soul, people work moved by their human spirit, knowing that what they do is not only to get income at the end of the month, but also to make a positive change in their community at a smaller or larger scale, and becoming change makers for the sake of the environment and the disadvantaged layers of society. In such a kind of organisation, sustained commitments are more likely to take place and its soul can be sensed beyond the marketing campaigns, in the daily routine. It is good to know that more and more talented professionals nowadays feel attracted to work in organisations with a soul, with a special sense of purpose beyond the financial profits.
When an organisation is based on authenticity in human relations – respect, empathy and self-exigency – when customer and mission centricity are deeply rooted in the people’s mindset, and when leading means serving the common good with humility and passion, then we can be sure that there is a soul. And it is reflected in the organisational culture not only in the speeches but also in the daily behaviour and the critical decisions, where the mission and the values prevail over the short-term financial profit, because long-term financial profit is superior when the organisation is loyal to these values and mission.