What's the Word: Embracing Personal Purpose

This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 8 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

Our Purpose

Purpose is the foundation of who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Embracing purpose establishes identity, sets the tone for behavior, and gives meaning to what we do by connecting actions with values. DPR’s purpose is “We Exist to Build Great Things.” It is a fundamental and unifying reason for the organization to exist. Below, members of DPR's Leadership Team share their thoughts on how purpose resonates at the individual level.

In their words

My individual, personal purpose is to try to make sure my team is supported and successful. If they fail, I’ve failed. I believe that when they see that I have their back, they’ll feel encouraged to make an impact. My commitment to the team is to be available anytime and during that time, I’ll be present, transparent and honest. Sometimes this may require sharing a different perspective, explaining the why, and admitting to not having it all figured out.

Angela Floyd

When it comes to leading with purpose, there are many things in what we do that are clear on the right path. However, there are also many things that have multiple paths, multiple options. In the cases where there are multiple choices, I try to spend thought on which is most closely aligned with our Purpose and Core Values, and which has the greatest long-term and short-term impact.

My day-to-day is tied to building a great company. To me, Building Great Things must pass the test of time. A company that is truly great is able to continue throughout the decades, well beyond any personal ability to directly positively affect the company. In order:

  • Making decisions that build strength for today, and tomorrow in our culture.
  • Company Strategy that will continue to differentiate us in the industry where it is headed providing value to our customers.
  • Making financially wise decisions that maintain a robust financial engine.

George Pfeffer

What I have always appreciated about our purpose, “We Exist to Build Great Things,” is that it is open for interpretation. [Our founders] Doug, Peter and Ron could have just as easily finished the statement with “Great Buildings,” but it is clear we wanted to do so much more than that. We as individuals can tailor the statement to motivate, inspire and align our teams. As the Get Work leader and team, we are focused and committed to building great things for our customers, not only high performing buildings, but great relationships. Finding ways to build more trust and value for our customers is what I am passionate about, it is what drives our priorities, and it is rooted in a clear purpose.

Jamie Moore

My personal purpose is to "help others make the perceived impossible, possible" by leveraging the power of connection with others as well as the undying belief that when we work together, we are better, and we can make anything happen.

The intersection of my personal purpose with DPR's purpose of "We Exist to Build Great Things" brings me tremendous energy and inspires me daily. For me, being a purpose-driven leader means being a servant leader and a cultural champion. It means connecting people in a way that leverages their individual strengths and brings out their best. It means being someone who lives our Point of View. It means knowing when and how to decide when you should manage versus lead based on what your team needs from you and how best you can support them. While we need both, leading and managing, as an organization I believe that leading looks different than managing. Managing involves day-to-day planning, resourcing and problem-solving—driving efficiency and effectiveness. Leading is about creating a shared vision, and inspiration and engagement—driving change.

What’s great about DPR is that we have so many smart and passionate people who take turns leading each other. Everyone inspires and learns from each other as part of a shared effort to make DPR a great place for employees, customers and partners—so that everyone who interacts with the company truly feels that passion and the great things that come from working together.

Mark Whitson

For me, leading with purpose is about helping to create an environment for everyone at DPR to do great work. That means everything from the focus on psychological safety within the DPR coach and employee relationships to a healthy, high-performance, team-oriented culture, to growth opportunities which bring out the best people have within themselves. I love to hear about people’s experiences within different teams and roles and companies within DPR so that we can continue to evolve within DPR’s great purpose.

I’m the type of person who collects qualitative data about my experience and the experiences of others all the time. As far as my internal measures, I’ve learned that “we exist to build great things” includes my roles as a mom, wife, volunteer and friend as a complement to my work at DPR. Sometimes “building great things” means pausing to reflect and regroup, sometimes it means multiple failures, so I try to take a longer view than the day-to-day any time I am able. On an individual level I often ask myself, “did I give it everything I had?” and “what did I learn today to help me do better tomorrow?”

Renée Stokman

Purpose sets the stage for people to accomplish big things together. Some might think it to be a talent for only the visionaries to inspire others’ behavior, but I believe purpose is also something that comes to you when you live in a community with similar interests. It’s cultivated when you are appreciating others’ work, their challenges, and listening to what they are trying to accomplish and overcome.

The most meaningful purpose I’ve found is helping others. When you create the community and attract others along the same journey, you build someplace where you can live and work for generations to come. You listen better and become tireless and courageous in finding the path that’s helpful for others. That’s grit! My community is every project and its people, and my deepest purpose is to be on the journey with them to continue to grow and improve.

Rishard Bitbaba