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Balancing Commerciality, Purpose, and Growth in Employability Services: A Leadership Challenge

Scott Parkin

Balancing commerciality, purpose and growth in the employability services domain is a leadership challenge that stands out. Let’s delve into how leaders can master this equilibrium.

In the domain of employability services funded from the public purse, one leadership challenge stands out: balancing commerciality and purpose, all while facilitating growth. This balance is the touchstone of effective service delivery, community impact and sustainability. Let’s delve deeper into how leaders can master this equilibrium.

Contextualising the Components

To start, let’s explain the trio.

  1. Commerciality: This speaks to financial sustainability. It ensures that the service not only survives but thrives, tapping into resources efficiently and finding revenue streams.
  2. Growth: Refers to scaling services to reach more beneficiaries, diversifying service offerings and expanding horizons.
  3. Purpose: The heart and soul of public services. It encompasses the societal benefit, the transformative potential and the values that underscore every decision.

The Triple-Act Challenge

Leaders need to see the synergy, not the dichotomy. Commerciality can fund purpose. Growth can amplify impact. And purpose can attract both financial and human capital.

Purpose-Driven Commerciality

Instead of seeing commerciality and purpose at odds, identify where they intersect. Explore relationships with like-minded businesses, initiate ethical revenue-generating programs and leverage social entrepreneurship models. When commercial endeavours resonate with your core mission, they become self-sustaining.

Inclusive Growth Models

Inclusivity ensures that as services grow, they cater to a diverse demographic, ensuring everyone benefits. It’s about quality and quantity. Leaders must ensure growth doesn’t dilute service quality or deviate from the core purpose.

Purpose as the Growth Catalyst

A defined purpose can be a magnet for talent, partnerships, and resources. Articulating a clear mission can lead to collaborations that drive growth, and in turn, bolster commercial viability.

Building an Agile Commercial Framework

This involves creating a flexible business model. Leaders should focus on generating multiple revenue streams, adapting to market shifts and ensuring that the commercial strategies employed remain agile and responsive.

Stakeholder Synergy

Actively involve stakeholders – from employees to service users. Their insights can help navigate the delicate balance between commercial activities and maintaining the essence of purpose.

Robust Monitoring and Evaluation

Establish metrics for commercial success, growth milestones, and purpose realisation. Periodic reviews ensure the organisation remains on track and identifies areas of recalibration.

Training and Development: Merging Worlds

Merging the worlds of business acumen with public service ethos is crucial. Leaders should champion training that enhances commercial understanding without overshadowing the essence of public service.

Navigating External Pressures

Leaders need to manage external pressures, from changing governmental policies to market fluctuations. This requires a proactive approach, foresight and adaptability.

Embedding Ethical Considerations

Commerciality should never compromise ethics. Leaders must ensure that in the pursuit of financial sustainability, the ethical compass of the organisation remains steadfast.

Celebrating Small Wins

Balancing this trio is a journey, not a destination. Recognising and celebrating milestones, whether related to commercial success, growth or purpose-driven achievements, is crucial.


In the intricate dance of commerciality, growth and purpose, leadership in employability services is the choreographer. Through strategic decisions, innovation and an unwavering commitment to the mission, achieving this balance is not only possible but also the hallmark of an effective and impactful service. As leaders navigate this path, they will find that commerciality, growth, and purpose – rather than being at odds – can form a harmonious trio, driving the organisation to greater heights.

By Scott Parkin FIEP, Group Chief Executive, Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP)

Scott Parkin is Group CEO of the Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP), the international membership body for employability professionals. The IEP is dedicated to supporting the people who support others gain work, progress in work and retain work. Scott is passionate about the development of people across the public services sector and has spent nearly 30 years in the Employment, Skills, Social Care, Housing, Justice and Health-related service sectors within a number of private, public and voluntary sector organisations, from large national employers to SMEs.

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