Matthijs Visch: Leading a Company with Purpose

Matthijs Visch: Leading a Company with Purpose

What does it take to lead a company with purpose?

This past month, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard turned his purpose into action by transferring the value of the company into a trust designed to fight climate change. Once again, Patagonia did business differently and showed that a company can do good for the planet while being financially strong.






Slowing Down in order to Build a Stronger Vision

So, what does it take to lead in a company with such a strong purpose? Matthijs Visch takes us through some of the things he had to learn and unlearn as General Manager for Patagonia EMEA. 

“In previous roles, priority number one, two and three were about building a business as big as possible and as profitable as possible and as fast as possible. The pace there was really high. At Patagonia we also have an urgency, but it’s an urgency around climate change and protecting the planet. We work at a different pace.” 

“I go a little slower and spend more time on the alignment within the organization, explaining and communicating. The role I see for myself as a leader is to build our vision and our strategy together. It takes more time, but it delivers something that is much stronger.” 

In addition to working at a different pace, Patagonia sets itself apart in other ways as well. “We do aim to be very healthy financially, but my accountability goes way beyond that. We are always asking ourselves, about everything we do: does this help in saving the planet?”

Cultivating a Culture of Trust and Feedback

Employee engagement is a crucial factor in bringing the full team in alignment in order to successfully implement a bold vision such as Patagonia’s. Matthijs learned early on that purpose can be an amazing driver of employee engagement. Even in past roles, he regularly sought ways to work with his teams on projects to improve and support the communities they were working in.

Here is Matthijs talking about how value alignment can boost employee engagement:

“For myself, I’m always working to cultivate a culture of trust and feedback. It’s something I’ve been busy with for the last ten plus years. It’s like having a beautiful garden, it needs constant maintenance and it’s really hard work.” 

What key practice helps Matthijs in achieving this? “It’s incredibly important that you’re able to be in the moment; not be distracted by thinking too much about the past or too much about the future. As you meet and connect with people, you need to be truly listening, in the moment.”

THNK and Purpose-Driven Leaders

THNK is proud to be working with Patagonia to develop leaders with purpose and commitment to tackle the world’s most pressing problems. 

THNK and Patagonia are both certified B Corporations, committed to creating a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system.

Curious to learn how you can become a more purpose-driven leader? Learn more about our Executive Leadership Program here.