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The CEO Success Flywheel: More Insights From Gapingvoid

New study describes High-Purpose Cultures as key to innovation and influence.

In a recently published article, I described a few insights from an unpublished study conducted by the culture design firm, Gapingvoid. In that article, I specifically discussed the importance of vision and defined purpose as fundamental to creating what Gapingvoid CEO, Jason Korman calls High-Purpose Cultures™.

Culture can and should be designed. It must be designed purposefully and in order to do so, it must be designed for a purpose. That purpose is the vision of the organization, which gives rise to the belief system, norms, and values of the organization.

In this brief article, I'm going to zoom out a little bit and explain some of the broader implications of the Gapingvoid CEO study. Specifically, I'm going to explain what they've developed as "The CEO Success Flywheel," based on their research and work with many of the top organizations and companies in the United States.

The "CEO Success Flywheel"

CEO Success Flywheel
Source: Gapingvoid

The above image depicts, from a broad perspective, how an organization's "Culture" leads to organizational success and CEO influence.

Unique insight from Gapingvoid's research is that a High-Purpose Culture™ facilitates "Employee Fandom." From Korman's perspective, a CEO's first client's need to be their employees. Those are the people who really need to be "fans" of what you're about as an organization. If the employees aren't super-fans of who you are and what you're doing, then how can you expect the broader world to embrace your vision?

Happy and "converted" employees, who know and have embraced the vision and purpose of the organization, interact differently with clients and customers. They see their service to the customer from a value-driven and purpose-centric lens, which gives greater depth and meaning to their service.

They see it as an obligation to give the customer the absolute greatest experience. They sincerely desire that the customer gets the promised results.

Employees who are super-fans lead to customers who are super-fans. Customers who are super-fans lead to media attention. That media attention creates differentiation and authority in the marketplace, allowing you as an organization to get highly-specific about "who" you want to serve. The more specific an organization is about "who they want to be a hero to," the less that organization focuses on competition and price, and the more that organization can focus on specified value and results.

Interestingly, this confidence and clarity allow the organization to raise its price and provide more specific and unique value in the marketplace.

Higher margins and more nuanced service leads to innovative thinking and results. All of a sudden, despite being in the same "industry" or "niche" as other organizations, the work you're doing bears no resemblance to what most other companies are doing.

You're innovating like crazy.

The purpose and vision of the organization fuel the High-Purpose Culture™ and it's raving fans—internal and external—which leads to a totally unique and novel way of creating value in the market place.

When done strategically, this allows the CEO to not only be seen as a leader from within but in many cases, to have a personal brand from without. This is why we know the names of various CEO's and we don't know the names of most. Those who are influential and innovative, like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, have captured our interest. We are fans of them and what they stand for.

Thus, greater influence for both the business and the CEO should be the key. Leadership is influence. Culture is simply the tool through which the CEO influences—using that culture as the driver for both internal and external influence.

The organic byproduct is higher pay of the CEO and valuation of the company. Ultimately, the goal is to influence and impact.


Although brief, this article begins to depict how "Culture" can and should be used as the driver for CEO influence. That culture should be "high-purpose," and focused employee-fandom as a core priority.

Your employees are your #1 customer. They need to be converted to the "cause" and fully identify with what you're about as an organization. This is what leadership is all about. Good leadership creates converts to the cause, which converted employees then go out and with purpose and intention, make a unique and special impact on clients and customers. This incredible service fuels media, differentiation, innovation, profits, and influence.

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