Businesses, large and small, need to know what business they are in and what business they aren’t in. This appears to be so simple that saying it is unnecessary. Yet, every day in businesses all over the world, employees and sometimes leaders themselves, forget their mission.

The purpose behind what we do becomes obscured by:

Technology
Technique
Training

Technology is a great enabler. It is also the great distractor. A small business can strangle itself by focusing on tweets and hits while revenue is anemic. A large one can see costs soar without commensurate gain in revenue, profit or market share.

Technique or methodology can be useful as framework but it takes no time at all for a framework to be applied with ruthless zeal. The technique isn’t the point. Results are the point. What is the result you are after?

Training. Mayo Angelou said, “you train animals, you educate people.” This is not mere semantics. Is training a bad thing? Of course it isn’t. However, it is inappropriately used. Too often it is the cheap alternative to a legitimate need.

Eric McGuffie, founder and owner with his son, Austin, of Genesis AutoNetwork are examples of people who keep their eye on their purpose. What is that? To help people get the car they want with the least amount of hassle.

I hired them to help me find a car. I like nice cars but the buying process isn’t my favorite thing. Eric found the car that matched what I wanted and bought it for me at the Manheim Auction in Atlanta. Eric said the auction ran like clockwork. Two days later, he and Austin drove the pristine, nearly new car to my house. Yes, they delivered it!

The auction brought together seller and buyer, cleaned the car within an inch of its life and inspected it. You are probably thinking that an auto auction runs on technology, technique and training. That’s true but it takes more than that. It takes focus on the customer. In this case, two customers-buyer and seller. It doesn’t work without a sense of purpose. How do you get that? Leadership.

Eric and Austin’s business also relies on technology, technique and training. In their case, the customer interaction, which was terrific, is more obvious. But make no mistake they need it all for it to work. How do they get that? Leadership.

Genesis AutoNetwork and Manheim couldn’t be more different in size but they run on the same principles. They are service driven businesses. My happiness with the process of buying my car was influenced by what each of them did. They each have the technical aspects of their business down but without mistaking it for their purpose.

Courageous leaders are relentlessly focused on why they are in business. They do not allow how to eclipse what and for whom.