Why You MUST Know Your Positional Purpose

Season #1

If you are like most people, you come to work with a laser sharp focus on the job ahead of you. You've heard messages like 

  • "Work hard."
  • "Do your job."
  • " Get results, and good things will come to you.

So your orientation is looking downward at the job for which you've been hired.

In this morning's musings I want to ask you to lift your head, look around, look above in order to clarify your positional purpose.

Eyes Up!

Every job in an organization exists because it is important to invest money in activities that are integrally connected to what we call our model for business acumen. It's adapted from the extraordinary book by Ram Charan, titled What the CEO Wants You to Know.

Basically, this model explains that every job in an organization is designed to help fuel a virtuous cycle  where

  • Cash  enables growth,
  • Profitable growth drives return, and
  • Return adds to cash.
  • This virtuous cycle made possible by attention to and in service of customers and consumers.  

We can have a lot more conversation about this model, but you have to understand it in order to clarify your positional purpose, which is integral to what I talked about in an earlier podcast  "Your Leadership Daily Practice."

The Importance of Your Positional Purpose

Once a woman told me about her fabulous CEO whom everyone loved, although we're terrified of this one thing that he did.

Instead of eating in the executive dining room, he would come into the cafeteria and sit down with random people. And his go-to question was:

"What do I pay you to do around here?"

Because of my own developing Business Savvy, I realized that he didn't want answers like I'm an accountant or I'm an HR business unit partner, or I am a programmer.

What he was looking for were answers, like:

  • I develop financial information that helps the company make smart decisions about increasing margin or.
  • I make sure the right people are in the right jobs and skilled in order to meet our growth goals for the next four quarters, or 
  • I develop programs that improve velocity by smoothing and shortening the cycle from start of work to the product being in the customer's hands.

To understand your positional purpose, we go back to the cash, growth, return and customer/consumer model.

Recognizing that all  components are integrally connected, every job, including your job, is intended to have a primary impact on one of them.

So where is the primary impact of your job?

For example is it to increase cash by shortening AR days or lengthening accounts payable days?

Or to make wise investments of available cash?

Or is it to fuel growth by creating marketing materials that help the organization gain market share?

Or to investigate  potential targets for acquisitions?

Or identifying new markets or doing R&D on new products.

Or is it driving return by selling products and services  to  clients  at a higher margin  or by decreasing expenses, which by the way, is one way that every person can impact return?

Or is it to increase the speed with which things get done? Are you part of  an Agile team or business process redesign or simply someone who looks to do things more efficiently. Again, that's something that every employee can do.

Or does your job exist in order to increase customer satisfaction and customer retention by ensuring product quality and/or product safety.

And finally, for a staff function like HR or compliance, does your job exist to ensure that the, e.g:

  • Right people are in the right job with the right skills to do the work that's required to move the company forward?
  • Company doesn't get hit with financial fines for non-compliance  with laws in varying geographies.

Contemplate this and come up with your answer to the question, "What do I pay you to do around here?" 


I want to tell you that that CEO's question isn't a random occurrence. I've told his story many times and heard similars, including this one from a woman who was at a meeting of the board of directors where she was a senior leader but not presenting.

One of the board members came up to here and asked, "What do you do to help the company grow?"

Now, she was not in any of the typical functions where that's the order of business. Her position had a high impact on employee recruitment and retention. So she answered,

"I make sure that all the positions that are required to meet our strategic growth goals are filled and that we don't incur additional costs of recruitment because we are able to retain our employees."

It's been a longer pod than usual because this such a crucial concept. 

You can of course learn more about it through our Be Business Savvy offerings. And also in my book, No Ceiling, No Walls. 

From the shores of Rincon, Puerto Rico, I hope this musing gives you much to think about and actions to take. 

Catch you next time,


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Podcast produced and original theme music by Megan Tuck www.megantuckaudio.com