From Purpose to Impact

This article starts by explaining the importance of understanding and having clarity of purpose, psychologists describe purpose as a pathway to greater well-being and business experts state that purpose is the key to exceptional performance. An organisation’s Purpose links together with its Vision (where it is going) and Mission (how it will get there) into a concrete statement of why the organisation exists.

While most leaders can clearly articulate an organisation’s purpose, they are often unable to clearly define their own reason for being which results in them not having a clear plan to translate purpose into action, limiting their aspirations and potentially failing professional and personal goals.

“we believe that the process of articulating your purpose and finding the courage to live it—what we call purpose to impact—is the single most important developmental task you can undertake as a leader.”

Nick Craig and Scott A. Snook

The thinking shared in the article has been tested in practice in a number of organisations in substantial numbers achieving significant results. The ‘purpose to impact’ plan has three key steps.

  1. Find your purpose
  2. Establish a purpose to impact plan
  3. Put your purpose into action

“Your purpose is your brand, ints not what you do it how you do your job and why” it represents who you are and the strengths and passions that you bring to any role. It is important to recognise that your purpose has nothing to do with a title or your organisation, it must be specific and personal, it has to resonate with you – it is yours and yours alone.

How do you find your purpose

Some people are naturally more reflective and find the process easier through introspection others will find the process harder and uncomfortable. The first task is to look at your life and seek to identify the underlying trends and major themes, this should expose your strengths, values and passions – what brings you joy.

Working with a small trusted group is suggested to be most effective because its often hardest to see yourself and those trusted friends and colleagues can act as a mirror as you work to define your purpose.

When you have completed the reflection, look to craft a statement and it should begin “my leadership purpose is …” it has to capture your ‘essence’ and call you to action.

Putting Purpose into Action

Having a purpose is only the basis of turning that ideal into your impact on the world. Your purpose to impact plan is different from a traditional development plan, it starts with a statement of your leadership purpose, it takes a holistic view of your personal and professional life, it incorporates meaningful purpose infused language so that the final document is an honest reflection for you. The plan must set long term opportunities to live your purpose (3 – 5 years) and set a series of timebased goals that will help you achieve that purpose.

Establishing a longer timeframe for the plan is important, it helps to make it feel achievable but also not so far off that it can be deferred. Once the longer goals are set the next step is to establish two year goals and then one year goals. In each step the intent is to link the goal steps in each timeframe in how you will achieve the purpose identified 3-5 years out. Breaking it down further into smaller steps and goals that you can track to monitor your progress.

  1. Long term goals (3-5 years)
  2. Medium term goals (2 years)
  3. Short term goals (1 years)
  4. Immediate goals (90, 60, 30 days)

You need to identify who are the critical people to help you live your leadership purpose, they are your team of advisors, supporters and coaches. They will help you build your team and achieve your goals.

“The two most important days in your life
are the day you are born
and the day you find out why”

Mark Twain

Key Takeaways

  • A purpose is your brand – its how you do you and represents the strengths and passions that you bring to any role.
  • Your purpose has to resonate with you – it doesn’t matter if it is flattering or aspirational, it has to be honest.
  • A purpose needs a plan – the Purpose to Impact plan establishes the steps to achieve goals 3 to 5 years out in the medium and short term to set and track your progress.
Synopsis of an article from HBR
by Nick Craig and Scott A. Snook
Published May 2014
Read the full article here:

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