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Motivation has been associated with harnessing personal drive in several theories developed over time. Herzberg made a big contribution to the understanding of motivation by introducing the contrast between extrinsic e. With the exception of the external impact of relationships, this study is primarily about intrinsic motivation.

It appears that the more personal the accomplishment, or intrinsic the center of causality, the higher the motivation to excel. Mallett and Hanrahan applied the social-cognitive theory of motivation in the context of elite athletes. They found a noticeable difference in the effort and drive in athletes that wanted to succeed because of personal ambition vs. In essence, the more the locus of causality is internal, the higher the degree of self-determination Mallett and Hanrahan, The understanding of engagement has evolved over time as well.

The term engagement was later defined by Harter, Schmidt and Hayes as a person's involvement in and satisfaction with their work Harter et al. A high level of engagement is the result of being stimulated, positive and fulfilled with a strong sense of meaningful pursuit and dedication Bakker et al. Engagement was defined by Bakker et al.

When reaching for a personal vision one is engaged, emotionally and physically, in moving toward an overarching goal. The goal becomes meaningful and purposeful enough to impact their energy, their focus and their drive Boyatzis et al. When we are working to accomplish a goal or vision that is not our own, we are less driven Higgins, ; Boyatzis, This is relevant because it exposes a gap in potential engagement and motivation when the vision or purpose individuals are striving to achieve belong to someone else e.

This is relevant because it illustrates there may be a difference between the individual who is striving to achieve a company vision that is not their own, and the individual who is striving to achieve their personal purpose through the work they do for an organization. There is a strong desire to embrace purpose as illustrated by the popularity of Rick Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life , which by its tenth anniversary had sold more than 60 million copies.

The connection of purpose to motivation, engagement and performance is already established. The positive psychology movement that studies the flourishing aspects of psychology connects purpose to motivation, engagement and performance, recognizing both purpose and calling as sources to motivation, drive toward, and commitment to, an accomplishment Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi, ; Damon et al. Embracing a calling, purpose or personal vision in one's vocation, as well as the feeling of living out a calling, is linked to a positive work experience and well-being Duffy and Dik, And an increased level of meaning or purpose is connected with work gratification Bonebright et al.

Organizations in which employees experience a higher level of engagement have increased levels of performance than organizations that do not Macey and Schneider, Shuck and Rose , p. The definitions of company vision vary but they all contain elements of an ideal future state.

15 Seriously Inspiring Mission and Vision Statement Examples

Vision is a desired state of products, services and an organization that a leader wants to realize Bennis and Nanus, It is an idyllic and distinctive representation of the future Kouzes and Posner, Vision is a desired state that represents or echoes the collective values of an organization House and Shamir, A vision helps define why people should, and how people will, act with regards to performance, decisions, and dealing with conflict Reilly, Empirical evidence about the connection between vision and performance is mounting.

Neff demonstrated the positive correlation between vision and the success of family businesses Neff, Vision was also highlighted as a determining factor that enables daughters to overcome gender bias and become successors in family businesses Overbeke, A longitudinal study by Baum et al. The directional effects in their study support that vision is an impactful factor in company performance Baum et al.

Vision drives motivation Mirvis et al.

Even more effective is a shared vision which allows for the incorporation of different perspectives within the organization, creating buy-in and support Kapoor and Meachem, ; Tillott et al. The concept of a personal higher purpose, introduced by Duffy and Sedlacek as one in which the benefactors are not themselves, could be applied to organizations.

The concept is that a higher purpose vision positions a company to build a financially sustainable organization that creates both social good e. A higher purpose goes beyond generating only profits and shareholder value Mackey and Sisodia, Relationships are very relevant to this study on the personal, social, and organizational level.

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According to Van Oosten , supportive and trusting relationships are the fulcrum that allows change to take place. Positive relationships are correlated with a greater degree of engagement, commitment, and retention Dirks and Ferrin, In the intentional change theory, relationships actually facilitate the movement through each discovery that brings about purposeful change. A correlation was identified between the pursuit of the ideal self and the physiological effect it has on neural circuits, appetite for learning and the emotional state of elation; all increasing the level of engagement around one's dreams, hopes, and strengths Boyatzis and Akrivou, Social identity and its correlation to relationships appear to be important in the work environment.

Social identity is defined by Ashforth and Mael and Boyatzis and Akrivou as the relationships one has with groups with which one is connected. Tajfel began his early work on social identity theory in the s through the identification of one's self to his or her group memberships. Although the initial context was to explain the tendency to elevate one's self image by identifying with groups or categories, the framework has been extended.

Boyatzis and Akrivou validated the connection between group relationships to elements of individual performance and organizational direction, beyond the original connection to self-elevation.

The intentional change theory establishes that positive, energizing relationships are not only critical in supporting change but a sense of group identity is an important element in the construct of shared vision Boyatzis and Akrivou, Identification with the social identity of an organization facilitates the internalization of company values and beliefs Ashforth and Mael, The literature illustrates that the constructs of personal purpose, company vision, motivation, engagement, and relationships have been emerging over time but there appear to be enough common elements in their definition to use as a foundation for gaining a greater understanding of the nature of personal purpose and goals when a company's vision is symbiotic with the aspirational purpose or goals of the individuals.

I am exploring the role purpose and goals play in symbiotic relationship with a company vision, so a qualitative approach was used, allowing for an abstract theoretical exploration of the social experience Charmaz, A cyclical process of gathering data, coding, reflection and review through memos was used to allow theoretical ideas, categories, and themes to emerge. The themes were then examined for validity against the codes. Data was gathered through interviews with open ended questions; allowing the interview process to be flexible, and the conversation to flow and evolve.

The interviews were designed to pull out stories and personal experiences that illustrated connections between personal purpose, goals, corporate vision, positive relationships, engagement and motivation. Understanding that one's personal purpose is often evolving and changing, the questions were intended to capture the connections between their understanding of their personal purpose or goals at that time. The questions used during the interview process are listed in the Appendix—Supplementary Materials.

The research was done in the context of high performing, senior leaders in U. Because I wanted to observe the way people articulated the role personal purpose and personal goals played in the alignment to, or possibly a symbiotic relationship with, a company's higher purpose vision, I selected a group that would most likely already be aligned to their company's vision. I sought out companies that had a higher purpose statement that was communicated publicly. A higher purpose statement was defined as an articulated vision statement that is future directed and beneficial to the greater society.

Companies with a published higher purpose statement were identified through personal networks and publications that recognized businesses as having a higher purpose vision. The initial quantity of possible candidates was large to assure there were enough companies that fit the criteria. Each recommendation was vetted to meet the definition of higher purpose by researching the company online, reviewing company literature, as well as asking people within the industry, and within the organization, to determine if the company indeed had a higher purpose that was shared within the company.

To assure a large enough pool of people to be interviewed, it was important that each company had multiple layers of management, enough breadth to include more than six high performing leaders, and an established performance review process. I conducted interviews within four companies that met the criteria, and provided geographical and industry diversity.


I was introduced to the CHRO, company president or divisional vice-president by mutual acquaintances. They connected me with an internal resource who identified members of the senior leadership team considered to be high performers. One of the outcomes of the goal-setting theory is that goals refer to important future outcomes and therefore, the selection of goals infers a desire to achieve a purpose or consequence; and success is associated with one's ability to pursue and accomplish goals that are important and meaningful Locke and Latham, Because a person may have a goal to accomplish a personal purpose it was important to find people who interpreted success through the completion of the task or goal as well as people who were motivated to complete the task only if it led to a much greater purpose.

Very early on it became clear that when the only choice a supervisor was given to describe the primary driver was purpose or goal, the perception of purpose was more favorable. One statement made during an interview reflected this negative connotation of being goal driven:.

I don't have goals that overt that I need to be—I need to have this particular title by a certain age. Through the axial coding process, distinct themes emerged but the categorization of the responses did not always match up with the original classification of goal or purpose driven as provided by their supervisor. It became apparent early on in the process of coding interviews that the way people responded to the first question was creating such a conceptual framework.

The phenomenon of the role personal purpose and personal goals had on symbiotic visions was clearly differentiated within two distinct areas of context, with the context being an individual's primary driver. This is supported by the statement that thematic sampling depends heavily on the quality of the data which is influenced by the setting or context Boyatzis, To eliminate the possibility of misclassifications by the supervisor due to possible negative connotations with being goal driven, and to avoid projecting, I identified a related and unbiased classification that could be applied to the subject's responses.

Although I am really studying goals vs.

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This categorization was selected because it represents the contrast between being task or goal driven vs. Task-positive preferences are connected to being goal oriented and include a predilection for goal achievement, problem solving, decision making and the ability to control actions.

Respondents were classified as task positive if their answers included being motivated by being acknowledged or appreciated for the work completed, maintaining balance, seeking opportunities, the work they do or solving problems. Socio-emotional preferences are much more future or purpose directed and are linked to social cognition, creativity and an openness to new ideas Boyatzis et al. Respondents were classified as socio-emotional if their answers included being motivated by one's passion, making the world better, the desire to make a difference and helping others in need.

Eleven participants gave task positive responses and thirteen participants gave socio-emotional responses. One hundred percent of the participants who gave responses indicating socio-emotional preferences were perceived by their supervisor as being purpose driven. When a participant gave more than one response, in all cases both responses fell into the same category. To assure I did not use the responses to this question in the coding process, the responses to this first question were removed from the coding process.

The remainder of the questions were used for the qualitative analysis. Twenty-four people were interviewed; seven interviews from one company, six interviews from two companies and five interviews at a fourth company. The interviews averaged an hour in length. Because of the narrow focus of my study, after twenty two interviews no new themes were emerging and it was not necessary to expand the interview pool beyond Fourteen interviews were conducted face-to-face in a quiet location selected by the participant.

Eleven interviews were conducted over the phone with the participant finding a quiet location that would allow them to reflect without interruption. IRB protocol was followed to assure consent, accuracy and confidentiality.

Seventeen participants were based out of their corporate office and seven were based in other cities, outside their corporate headquarters location, around the United States. I coded and sorted the interviews manually as well as electronically utilizing the web application Dedoose. After completing an initial coding on all interviews, interviews were reviewed to verify that consistent coding was applied. Focused coding was used to synthesize large sections of data Glaser, , such as stories, and axial coding was used to identify the frequency of common themes and the existence of dominant themes Strauss, All coding was done blind to the initial criterion to see if themes emerged.

The interviews were tracked with a two-digit identifier.