Connecting to Cause

Leaders can help their organizations succeed my making the organizations’ cause explicit and helping people connect with it.

It is the leader’s responsibility to provide purpose if they want to retain good people – if you want to retain talent, you’ve got to create cause. Otherwise, you get a relationship in which “I am working for you purely because I’m earning money”. Then you get very short-term thinking, very selfish thinking.

Charles Handy

The corollary to the quote at left is that when people are deeply connected to cause, the result is extraordinary performance. When people are connected to a common cause, there is genuine caring about the success of the whole. This caring is the source of power that drives the organization and the individuals within it to incredible heights. Cause gives people courage and keeps an organization focused. Cause gives us the reason to change. Without cause we are like one of those silver balls in a pinball game – bouncing around hoping to score well. Without cause, this year ends up looking a whole lot like last year.

For it to be a source of power in an organization’s life, cause needs to be made explicit – constantly discussed and thought about. This is what keeps cause uppermost in the organization’s collective mind – this is what turns the ember for accomplishment that we all have inside us into a blazing fire.

It is the leader’s job not only to delineate the organization’s cause, but to also help people connect with it. The leader does this by standing in front of his or her people and talking about the organization’s future and why achieving it is worthy of her or his time. It is understanding how the organization is going to positively touch society, clients, the industry and the lives of other human beings that allows people to connect with the organization’s future and in so doing they will pursue it. They will succeed. The organization will succeed and people’s lives will be enriched by the experience.



“There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work. The challenge is to find which is the voice of your spirit rather than ego or self-interest… The place that your spirit calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Frederick Buechner


Ron Wiens has spent the past 30 years helping organizations build high performance cultures. His most recent book, titled ‘Building Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound’ is a leader’s guide to culture as competitive advantage. To contact Ron, send him an email at