Thought Catalysts: Cheryl Stargratt on Leading with Purpose

February 2, 2017 Cheryl Stargratt, The Art Of

There are leaders and then there are followers. Generally the idea is to be the former. 

But perhaps it's worth a shot to look at this phrase the other way around. Maybe to be a leader, it's worth being a follower. 

The people who lead the way with awesome ideas and unique talents did so by acquiring knowledge and applying it in new and interesting ways. We all need to learn stuff to lead stuff. And those who do it best inspire others to act. 

They are Thought Catalysts. Here they are as told by the keynoters giving us lightbulb moments from The Art Of


Being a leader can mean a lot of things. When most people envision the day-to-day life of a leader, they likely picture things like strategy meetings, budgets and a large focus on profit. While there is definitely truth to this, being a successful leader is about more than just managing the bottom line – it’s about embodying the values and culture of your organization, inspiring your employees and leading with purpose.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of presenting about leading with purpose, alongside Kornferry, at the Conference Board’s 22nd Annual Leadership Development Conference in New York. While many audience members were familiar with Tangerine, it was amazing to introduce them to our purpose, which helps define our culture and how we give back to the community – things that really set us apart. At Tangerine, our underlying purpose is to help Canadians live better lives. We do this by providing exceptional Client experiences and by providing the tools and resources that Canadians need to simplify their finances, make smarter decisions and live healthy financial lives.

This is what we call Forward Banking. To keep us accountable to our purpose through all areas of the business, Tangerine has a set of Promises (We Dare, We Share, We Care, We Deliver) that guide our culture. We also help Canadians in the community through our #BrightWayForward community investment and sponsorship program. This program brings together our commitment to helping Canadians live better lives with our strong history of giving back to the community through financial resources and employee volunteerism. Through #BrightWayForward, we work with incredible charity organizations across the country that help empower Canadians, inspire self-esteem, and encourage a sense of belonging and acceptance — essential ingredients to creating a bright way forward. #BrightWayForward is important to Tangerine because it is rooted in our purpose and deeply connected to our corporate Promises, which guide our culture. We have a purpose beyond providing the basics of banking, a purpose that is aligned around core values, and defines why we exist. For us, it’s about helping Canadians live better lives. Having a defined corporate mission or purpose that is closely linked to your corporate social responsibility strategy is key.

Some might say – “Okay, so what? What’s the ROI?” As Chief People Officer at Tangerine, I have the responsibility of ensuring Tangerine’s purpose guides our people strategy in addition to our unique, collaborative and transparent Orange culture. What we hear often when recruiting for new employees is how candidates connect with our purpose as an organization. For them, it’s about more than compensation, benefits and titles. We’re seeing more and more that people want to work for an organization that shares their values. And it’s not just about hiring. When longstanding employees are connected with the purpose of your organization, they’re more likely to be engaged, productive and ultimately advocate for your organization and help drive your business forward.

Once your purpose is identified, maintaining it is crucial. Just like a Marketing professional guards your brand, leaders must guard their organization’s purpose. Ensuring your purpose is embedded in your culture at all levels of your organization is key to maintaining your employer brand and keeping employees engaged as they grow in their careers at your organization. For example, building our #BrightWayForward employee volunteering efforts (what we call Orange in the Community) into our leadership curriculum is one step we’re taking to help sustain our DNA for years to come. In an increasingly digital world where authenticity is so important, leading with a clearly defined purpose that employees and clients connect with has never been more relevant. Are you connected with your organization’s purpose? 


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