Lyndal Hughes – Building Purpose-Driven Organisations

By PeopleLeaders | People Leaders Podcast

Lyndal Hughes

Purpose-driven organisations are more than just ‘nice places to work.’ They also tend to have higher market share and grow three times faster than organisations that are not purpose-driven.

In this podcast Jan had a lively discussion with Lyndal Hughes, Managing Director of Q5 Australia, a consultancy that helps organisations ‘make change stick.’

Lyndal explained that their work centres around helping organisations and teams find their ‘Why’, collectively and personally, and then work out how their work can be meaningful for all involved.

And Lyndal was kind enough to share a free giveaway, a pdf explaining some of the finer points that were covered on the interview (see the link below).

Click here to watch the interview on video

Episode Highlights:

  • [00:26] A Broader Perspective on You and Your Role
  • [02:23] What is a Purpose-Driven Business?
  • [03:19] A Clear Why
  • [04:20] Exponential Organisations
  • [05:53] Difficult Circumstances
  • [07:56] Finding Meaning
  • [09:06] Getting Clear on Your Why
  • [10:52] Goals, Performance and Resilience
  • [13:08] Are We a Team or Are We a Group?
  • [14:15] Aligning Individual and Team Goals
  • [16:51] Recognition
  • [18:31] A Sense of Belonging
  • [19:56] Psychological Wellbeing
  • [22:02] A Performance Rhythm
  • [23:13] A Career Marathon
  • [24:44] Walking the Talk
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Please note, our transcripts are produced by AI and have not been edited thoroughly. They are provided for those who prefer to read but please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors that have crept into the process.

[00:26] A Broader Perspective on You and Your Role

Jan Terkelsen: Okay, so hello everyone. I'm flying solo today and I'm really looking forward to this interview with Lyndal. I know that you are all gonna walk away with not only some new and interesting facts and knowledge, but you are going to want to apply some of these things, these insights, and I think you'll also come away with a broader perspective on you, your role and also the organisation that you work in.

So whether or not you are a solopreneur or you are working in a corporate environment. And so Lyndal has over 25 years experience implementing transformation leadership strategies, for the health sector, professional services and blue chip companies, and also government departments, not only here in Australia and New Zealand, but in the UK and the US.

So as you can hear, we have a lot of experience in the room, and Lyndal, whether it's leading a team of Q5 consultants working with Amex to implement a global system that not only impacts 15,000 people across 15 countries or doing one-on-one executive coaching. Lyndal's goals remain the same, and her mission is to improve vigorous evidence-based practical tools and approaches, to deliver change in a way that achieves resilience, high performance and workplace wellbeing.

And I think this is really timely from our experience creating high performance teams, but also understanding how to achieve resilience and workplace wellbeing has been one of the most popular coaching and also program opportunities that we have seen in the last several years. So I'm really excited to introduce and welcome Lyndal. So welcome Lyndal.

Lyndal Hughes: Hello. Thank you for the introduction.

[02:23] What is a Purpose-Driven Business?

Jan Terkelsen: Oh, my pleasure. Well, I think it's really important that people understand, you know, the breadth of experience that people bring.

And because our listeners not only come from, you know, the corporate area, not only in Australia but across the world, there are people who are growing their business as well. Yeah. And I think it's really interesting to have a look and understand that when you are building your business, the principles that, you know, large organisations use are some of the principles that smaller businesses can use as well.

And I think this is, this is particularly apt.

Lyndal Hughes: Absolutely.

Jan Terkelsen: That's right. And so, and that's why I think, you know, having a purpose-driven business is going to be really important. So let's start on that. So we hear a lot about purpose-driven organisations and it's, you know, a little bit of a corporate term.

So can you just tell us what this means and why is it important?

[03:19] A Clear Why

Lyndal Hughes: So a purpose-driven organisation fundamentally is really clear on its Why. So, as with a lot of terms today, they dilute and they get broadened. So some people view a purpose-driven organisation in that not for profit world, helping community.

Doesn't have to be. It's an organisation who's just really clear on the value and it's reason for being. And at the end of the day, an organisation that's clear on its reason for being will enhance the community in which it's in and will enhance the experience of everyone working there.

Jan Terkelsen: I love it. And like I was doing some research on purpose-driven organisations and they said that what separates them is their longevity and authenticity because like what you were saying is they're really clear on their value and their why. And also Deloitte said that they witness a higher market share and they grow on average three times faster.

And it's like, when I read that, it's like, why wouldn't you invest in.

[04:20] Exponential Organisations

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah, and it's interesting, Celine Ismail has done a lot of work with exponential organisations and looking at those characteristics of organisations that grow tenfold, so explode even more, than three times. And they have what they call this massive transformative purpose.

So a really big Why. You know, if you look at Google, their really big Why is to organise the world's information, which, when they came up with that almost seemed too far fetched. But now we get what it means. You can have this really big purpose and you just know that all the actions heading towards it, you don't have to micromanage, you don't have to check on everyone.

Even in terms of strategies, it's heading in that one direction. So it's very powerful if you get it done.

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah, definitely. And I suppose if everyone is really clear on the direction that they're heading, how they do it is going to be different because you obviously want diversity, but you know, you've got, you've got a, you know, like a team that's really engaged in, you know, delivering.

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah, it means that, you know, we like Agile's, the other word, which is used a lot, you know, and, and little agile is that you're flexible. So essentially having a strong purpose means that your team can flexibly, they can respond to context, you know, and if Covd's taught us anything, we need to be able to respond quickly and in big ways sometimes.

But if your purpose doesn't change, you know what you are responding towards. It's giving clarity.

[05:53] Difficult Circumstances

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah. I suppose that also adds to this level of, you know, consistency, the way in which we do things as well because, you know, again, we are heading in that, in that same direction. Yeah. So how do you think this relates to someone's day to day work task?

So, here I am, I'm not even the owner of a business, I'm working in an organisation, or I'm working, you know, in a small business. Why would this be important to me?

Lyndal Hughes: So purpose has been shown to be important for a number of things. So clearly we've already said it. It's really fundamentally important at that organisational level.

But for every one of us as an individual, and all this research that's coming around, in terms of resilience, psychological wellbeing, purpose is absolutely up there. And there is research done, a while ago by a doctor in New York, a psychiatrist, Dennis Charney, and he looked at individuals who had experienced extreme adversity, and he looked historically at Hanoi Hilton.

He looked at Hurricane Katrina. He looked at 9/11. He looked at profound adverse situations and he wanted to see what was the difference.

You know, there's a group that comes out, is impacted but can eventually get on with life, and there's another group who is damaged forever and really struggle to function going forward.

And he's come up with a list of 10 things, which really do differentiate those two groups. And, one of the highest differences is this sense of purpose. So this larger.

So those, it, it, and for many people it was spiritual in these, situations, it doesn't have to be, there is a greater reason for getting out of that situation than just themselves alone.

Whether their purpose is their family or something else. So purpose is fundamentally important for all of us when we go through difficult circumstances.

[07:56] Finding Meaning

Lyndal Hughes: And so if I'm a manager, you know, like leading a team, you know, having those conversations around the meaning that the reason why we are doing what we do and really connecting those dots to people's values, I suppose, you know, what's important to them.

Yeah. So, Dennis Charney has a list of 10 questions which we'll make available. So that will be in a sheet available below. And you might, if you're a manager, just do have an offsite, it might be the end of year or beginning of next year, and you give everyone a chance to, to answer those questions, to tap into their Why.

Why exist, why they exist. These are the same questions that I use with my clients. I, I've sat down with commissioned police officers to, people in the retail sector. So, so these are just questions about being human. And once you understand what is important to you, then you can start having a conversation with your manager and your leader.

And together you can work out how can you shape or configure what you do so it has meaning for you.

[09:06] Getting Clear on Your Why

Lyndal Hughes: So I'll give you an example. So in working with, police and, and this was with police in Victoria a number of years ago, ran a number of sessions with leaders, around the whole state. They all completed this and reflected on it.

At the end of the activity, we asked them to write a statement so that the importance of having this statement of my purpose is, it's something I can look at. Help me ride the wave. One of those police officers came to me and he went this was in the break. He said, "Look, I'm really concerned." He said, "Most people's purpose in being in the police and, in their words, is to catch the crooks.

"You know, that they, they want the community to be safer. That's why they do it."

But he said, "Mine is my family. My purpose is my family. I wanna go home." And he was, had this moment of anxiety, you know, "Am I in the wrong place?" And I said to him, "No, no. Now, now you know that you can set up your day around that."

And there's not a lot that they can do. Police in terms of every day is completely new. But he was able, and if anyone knows police, they have 'Corro days' where they have to do correspondence. They hate it, they, procrastinate, they do anything. It was like, no, on your Corro day, get it done, go home. You're clear on your why.

So regardless of the job, regardless of what your Why is, you can bring the two together in some way.

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah, I love that. And I love the fact that it is through the art of questioning to understand what is driving people. Because you know, when you have people who understand why they do things, there's just more engagement and you know, obviously the, the, the blow on effect.

[10:52] Goals, Performance and Resilience

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah. Could you step us through the link between having clear goals and the impact on resilience and performance? Because as we've been talking about, you know, understanding your Why and being purpose-driven, we know that there are some real hard earned benefits from that a lot, you know, around performance and, and resilience.

But I'd love to know the link between clear goals and the impact on resilience and performance.

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah, so if we think about, purpose is my meaning, so I, I, there's meaning in my work. There, there's meaning in why I'm here on the earth. I've, I've kind of got that and there's meaning why I'm in this team and I can talk through some steps about the team in a minute.

So I have my meaning. So goals is a way of, to translate that to some things that I'm going to achieve. And achievement is another part of psychological wellbeing and there's a lovely model, if people, and again, we can give some links, it's called the PERMA Model, and it's by Martin Seligman.

Jan Terkelsen: Mm-hmm.

Lyndal Hughes: And a lot of people know it, and Meaning and Achievement are the M and the A. So they fit really closely together. So what goals do is they make it possible to achieve. So setting up stretch goals that are challenging they're meaningful.

So I've got that purpose in why I'm doing them, but I've got a likelihood of actually achieving them and breaking them down to success.

So it fuels us. It tops up our reservoir as people.

Jan Terkelsen: Oh look, I'm even noticing that with my mother. Having goals because it's actually helping her with her, she's 90, and so, you know, one of her goals was to, plan her 90th birthday and then it was to put a new kitchen in. And now we've got some goals around, you know, other things about her house and things like that.

So, yeah, I'm actually seeing it in other aspects as well.

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah. So as I always say, when I work with clients around resilience, "You take your whole self with you. It doesn't matter where you build it, build it at work, build it at home, but you take it with you." And so yes, equally applicable at home or at work.

[13:08] Are We a Team or Are We a Group?

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah. So can you tell us a little bit about the teams? What would you be doing as a manager or leader as a team?

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah, so look, I, I do this quite a bit with teams of all levels. So even if it's an executive team, absolutely right down to a frontline team, look, I suggest, as part of an offsite, really having a conversation about the Why, and I know there's this, distinction between are we a team, are we a group?

You know, a team is someone who has to come together to jointly get a meaningful output. But regardless, even a group, what, what, why do we exist together in this organisation? And I think a nice technique. So if you imagine even just allow two hours, I would say for a good conversation. You know, give it, give it purpose in itself.

But a nice technique because people, you might find that some teams, everyone's a bit quiet, or they defer to what the leader, so they'll kind of look to the leader and kind of go, oh, what's the leader saying our purpose is, that'll be it.

[14:15] Aligning Individual and Team Goals

Lyndal Hughes: My suggestion is have everyone in the team think about the Why. Think about what would be missing if that team didn't exist. So the people might exist, but not as a team. What would be missing?

And have them write it on a separate piece of paper and put it into a hat, then everyone pull out a different piece of paper and they can share what's on that. So again, to stop this vulnerability of sharing what I really think. Probably what you'll find is they'll vary quite a lot.

And I've even done this with not for profits and a not for profit board where you would think that everyone's very clear on the purpose and it's, it's not, it's often taken for granted.

So put it on a piece of paper so people are, comfortable. Have everyone read it out and have a discuss. What is our Why?

Then the next step is I would be asking the team, on behalf of whom does the team exist? Who, who is that team in service of? And again, that's not always quite clear.

So that would be the second step and a really good discussion, cause it's not everyone. Mm-hmm.

And, and then the third step would be I'd ask and have a discussion, if there was one thing we did every day as a team that matters for that group that we exist, what would it be? What would be the thing that we would make sure we did every day for that group?

And then you can then bring in that individual goals and start aligning it back to that. So it hangs together really nice.


Jan Terkelsen: I love that. And what you are what you are doing is you are going broad and then getting really specific. And I, and I like the idea about the one thing, cause I've just finished reading a book, The One Thing because you know, we always talk about priorities, but it really is a priority, you know, it's singular.

Yeah. And when we are really clear on that, can you imagine a team being really clear on why, you know, for who exist and why? You know, understand who their really key, key stakeholder is and be able to deliver on that. That's pretty powerful.

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah, it is. It is. And, and actually you're changing culture. When I talk to leaders about culture, often culture is discussed as this separate thing.

This thing in the ether out there. Actually culture is what leaders do, and it's what we do every day. So if we're all doing something that matters to the key group of why we exist, Well, I mean that's, that's powerful that, that's productivity and its purpose in itself.

[16:51] Recognition

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, this can, you know, you could do this if you have, you know, a small team or you own your own business no matter what field you're in, you know, whether it's, you know, plumbing or whether it's corporate finance.

I think those questions are extremely important, understanding. You know, why do you exist on behalf of whom? Like, who do you service? And then the one thing that matters every day that's gonna, you know, move you forward. Yeah. I think they're really powerful and I hope you know, people are writing this down or you'll, you'll hear it in our, see it in our transcripts.

So Lyndal, what role? So thinking about. You know, like teams. What role do you think recognition and acknowledgement play in this, like, value proposition? Because we often talk about the role of acknowledgement and recognition and how there are certain personality types that need it more than others.

However, across the board we find that this is a really important and it is, it's a, it's a, it's a real indicator of the type of culture that you have, you know, how do you recognise and reward. So could you tell us a little bit about that?

Lyndal Hughes: Well, recognition. Absolutely. And, and I think at the heart of recognition is that that person matters, that they're valued. That, that I see what you are doing, but it's not recognition and acknowledgement that's a general, you know, "Hey, thanks for coming into work today. It was great seeing you." It's actually, "Thank you for doing that thing because it really made a difference."

So again, I, threading some purpose, you know, some Why in the recognition, again, is really important.

[18:31] A Sense of Belonging

Lyndal Hughes: I think it also links to this sense of belonging. So if I, and and recognition can be quite, it does, so some, to your point, some people really like, you know, a pat on the back or being acknowledged as part of a team meeting and it feels good so quite public, whereas others may find that really uncomfortable.

So as a leader, it's discerning what matters for this person. What is a recognition? And sometimes it's the quiet recognition. It's like, "I've been watching what you've been doing, Fred, and it's great the way you did X, Y, Z with that customer. That's something I think the rest of us can learn. Thank you."

And, and recognition doesn't have to be that they've achieved the thing you want, it's recognising that they're progressing towards it.

Yeah. Yeah. You, you're looking at that behaviour. Not necessarily the result or the, the output that they're producing. Yeah, I love that. And I think, you know, like connecting it to, you know, why it matters, like the impact that that person is having on the behaviour that you're observing is really important. Yeah.

Like there's lots of responsibility for leaders and that's why they're one of the prime levers of changing culture as well, because you know, they do impact so many on so many levels. Yeah.

[19:56] Psychological Wellbeing

Lyndal Hughes: The reason I became really, look, I started working in the realm of psychological wellbeing over 20 years ago, and I would go into organisations, I didn't wanna talk about stress, you know, it was to, because now talk about stress, it becomes a risk.

So we talk about motivation and resilience, but essentially if you're talking about psychological wellbeing, you're talking about two parts. One is it feels good to be at work and there's meaning in what I do. And you're touching on both there Jan. So the meaning bit we've touched with purpose, but it feels good to be here.

And I'm being recognised it's actually quite a nice place to be. I've got good colleagues, good relationships and together it makes a sense of belonging.

And the other buzzword, which we hear everywhere, is about psychological safety, and speaking up. Really, if you strip all of it back, if you make it feel good to be at work and there's meaning, and as you say, I'm recognising people, there is a sense of belonging. You, you are. It can be that simple. Mm.

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah. And I, I notice it in organisations where they don't necessarily just rely on the leader for that, whereas colleagues are recognising each other and that's when I can see a real, you know, constructive culture in play when we see that.

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah. And, and that's the role modeling.

.We're working a lot in the healthcare sector because of the frontline workers. Absolutely exhausted, very hard to get staff as you know.

So what we can work on is make the experience of work better. And in working with one of the LHDs, they came to us to ask about wellbeing. And in the end we went, you know what, it's part of staff experience. So it's seeing, so I think the message, again for leaders is, don't see all of this as separate pieces and, oh, there's another thing I need to do.

It's really thinking about, this is staff experience. How do I make it better? How do I have, well, people working in a purposeful.

[22:02] A Performance Rhythm

Jan Terkelsen: Mm, beautiful. And I think when you can build it into the way, you know, your performance rhythm, so is it through my one-on-ones, my team meetings, you know, those crafted conversations, those kind of things, you know, have it top of mind.

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah. Yeah. So in, in your regular fortnightly weekly meetings that you have, do a check in, ask, you know, pick up one of the, the sense of purpose questions, you know, notice. So a lot of it is, again, it's about showing care and that someone matters. So the way as a leader, you can see what a sense of purpose is, is you'll start to see where the energy goes and what really matters for that person and how they're setting up their day.

So, observe. Play it back. Don't just ask questions. You know, give your interpretation of what you're seeing as well to help them.

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah. Yeah.

Sometimes we have to connect the dots, don't we?

Lyndal Hughes: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Jan Terkelsen: So what are you currently working on, Lyndal that excites you? Because, you know, you work in this, in this field around, you know, resilience, high performance.

You've worked with, you know, incredible, you know, companies across the globe. So what, what are you working on now?

[23:13] A Career Marathon

Lyndal Hughes: We're actually working with another healthcare organisation and, and I do love organisations that have impact on community. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's about transformation. So they're, they, there's a lot of need, a lot of community expectations and it's helping them to set up well to transform so that they can integrate better to deliver to the community.

At the moment a lot of healthcare sectors have different services isolated, having to go to different sites, so looking at how to get a more seamless experience for patients. So really thinking about elevating that patient care. The interesting thing when you work in healthcare is people have a really strong Why.

Yes. It, it is the patient. so the challenge sometimes is helping them to look after themselves. And this comes back to the individual as you were saying, because we are all on a career marathon. We're not having a sprint. So we have to last 40 years. So that, that's really important. And so the health, so, you know, I love the fact I'm working with frontline healthcare workers on their health.

So to help them stay well and energise to give better treatment to patients. And looking at how do you line up the strategy with the culture, with the technology, with the operating model, the operating rhythm? So really looking holistically at a whole organisation.

Jan Terkelsen: How wonderful?

Lyndal Hughes:

Yeah, it's fun.

[24:44] Walking the Talk

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah. Yeah. So how do you, you know, manage your resilience and wellbeing being an expert in that field? What are some of the things that you do?

Lyndal Hughes: It, it's tricky. I, I sort of say I, I don't like being a hypocrite, so I do, I actually love running the program when we run a resilience program because I always refresh it for myself, you know, what do I need to do?

Yeah. I think, look, there are a couple of key things which are really important. And I think everyone's really busy. One of them is detachment. So there's a lot of research around how to, how someone we all need to physically and mentally detach from work in order to feel better tomorrow and in order to be more productive tomorrow.

So it's thinking, how do I transition from work? So if I'm working at home, what do I need to do to do, to break? What do I need to do to manage my email? I might reconnect later to that tonight, but it's contained, it doesn't permeate through the whole night. So detachment's really important. I think quality time, so bit of exercise.

The other piece which sits comfortably with wellbeing is exercise. It's considered almost the magic bullet in terms of reducing likelihood of depression, recurrence of depression. So I do lots of walks with my husband, so again, having someone and doing a walk is lovely. So thinking physically as well as that detachment piece of my two keys.

Jan Terkelsen: Beautiful. And that's, you know a really nice reminder for all of us. You know, like what are we doing in any 24 hour period that is supporting our wellbeing because, you know, the most important thing in our life is our life.

Lyndal Hughes: Absolutely. And I think the thing for everyone listening, you know, and again, this is working with police over a number of years, those who slip clinical needs...

So stress, so, so we all need pressure. When we keep tipping into stress a bit too often, we can find it hard to pull ourselves back. Those who quite often end up on stress leave not all the time, but quite often are those who have had the build of little stresses all the time and haven't consciously topped up their reservoir.

So think of yourself as your reservoir. It doesn't need to be a big stressor in order to tip you over. It might be just an accumulation of a lot where you're just taking yourself for granted really, and not topping up.

Jan Terkelsen: Yeah, that's right. And you know, as you mentioned before is it's really, you know, how do you feel, you know, cuz that's a really good indication of you know, what's happening in your psychological system and also your physiological system.

Yeah. Well there, there's some great insights. I've made copious notes here that I'm going to walk away with and as well as reflect on Lyndal and I think that's the interesting part about having conversations with people in, in your field is that we can now take some of those questions and insights into our own work and environment and also at home as well.

You know, I think it's interesting to just see how we are supporting each other. So thank you so much for our conversation. I've really enjoyed it. And yeah, well perhaps in the future, see what else you yeah, you are researching and delving into sounds. It's important. It's a really important area.

So thank you, Lyndal.

Really enjoyed it..

Lyndal Hughes: Thank you. Thank you, bye bye. 

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