Do something purposeful

Purposeful leadership motivates individuals, empowers teams to achieve their greatest potential, provides clarity to organisational priorities and goals and connects everyone to broader societal goals.

Purposeful leadership starts with clarity about your own purpose, and that can be difficult to get clear (at least at first). Pan Pan (founder of Swiss advisory firm Pantera Ventures) suggests that leaders wanting to identity their true purpose, need to start by considering the end of their careers. Consider the “end game”, where do you personally hope to be and what does success look like to you? Think about career achievements, what do you hope to have accomplished? What kind of impact will you make? What legacy, however small, would you like to leave behind?

Leadership coach and author Mitchell Simon explains that one important aspect of being purposeful in leadership is to continually seek out feedback. Enabling the leader to better reflect if they are actually living their purpose. By being vulnerable, open and able to adapt to the feedback from the team, leaders also model the desired behaviour and gain greater alignment.

Living on purpose is only for those who have the courage to make the difference

Mitchell Simon, (Forbes Magazine 2019)

This purposeful leadership is strongest when there is a network of leaders aligned to a common purpose. Purposeful leaders recognise that in order for them to achieve their goals they need their whole team aligned to their purpose and to hold each other accountable.

Source: based on Arc of Purposeful Leadership by Thomas A. Horan (Leader to Leader 2020)

Purposeful Companies

McKinsey have written fairly extensively about the importance of corporate purpose in the April 2020 McKinsey Quarterly Gast, Illanes, Probst, Schaninger and Simpson wrote “when companies fully leverage their scale to benefit society, the impact can be extraordinary. The power of purpose is evident as the world fights the urgent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of companies doubling down on their purpose, at the very time stakeholders need it the most“.

It is not just about an organisation being focused on high profile Corporate Social Responsibility targets for an organisation to be considered purposeful. The alignment of that reason for being needs to deeply resonate in the faith and beliefs of the people who work in the organisation.

Connecting purposeful leadership to company purpose, bonds the people in the organisation together. Aligned to a purpose beyond the immediate mission, goal or task.

It is not easy to push a company to define and live consistently by its purpose. Championing change requires leading with empathy and establishing a strategic vision that extends beyond the immediate goals of the organisation and connects the organisation to its positive influence on the wider community at its fullest potential.

To identify our purpose is a vulnerable act. It calls on us to ask ourselves why we are here. It forces us to take actions we are passionate about and say no to those that are ho-hum. It connects us to the difference we are here to make.

Mitchell Simon, (Forbes Magazine 2019)

Purposeful Leadership is Impactful

  1. Inspire: a common vision in those around you
  2. Engage: every team member in activities that are meaningful
  3. Innovate:  products and processes with purpose
  4. Achieve: results through drive, structure and clarity
  5. Become: more aware your ability to transform, coach, and influence

The role of companies needs to go far beyond creating just financial value. Economic performance goes hand-in-hand with positive social and environmental contribution, and businesses can only be successful in the long term if they also enable all of their stakeholders, community and the environment to thrive.

Credit: Unsplash

The Benefits of Purposeful Leadership

In 2018 EY identified that “getting purpose right builds organisational resilience and, crucially, improves long-term financial performance” (EY Global Leadership Forecast, 2018). Independent research from Linkage went further and found significant connections between purposeful leaders and business results:

Companies with purposeful leaders have:

  • 2.5 X sales growth
  • 4 X profit growth
  • 5 X competitive differentiation and innovation results
  • 9 X higher employee engagement scores.

The worlds most respected leaders have a few common personality traits in their leadership style. These include the ability to inspire a shared purpose and vision, to model the skills and behaviours necessary to achieve the goals and stated objectives. (Hudson-Searle, 2020)

It is about working towards something much bigger than yourself and bringing people with you on that journey.”

Leaders that execute this effective form of leadership with their employees could benefit from having a fully engaged workforce. Studies by Gallup found that employees supervised by highly engaged leadership teams are 39% more likely to be engaged themselves. An effective purposeful leader results in highly engaged employees.

Key Takeaways

  • Purpose provides leadership clarity and helps set a frame for prioritising and driving strategic goals.
  • Purpose binds a team to a larger goal and drives performance.
  • Purposeful Leaders drive results.
A DIGEST of articles from Forbes
To Be A Purposeful Leader, It Takes A Village
By Mitchell Simon
Published: 21th February 2019

and from Leader to Leader (University of Pittsburgh)
The Arc of Purposeful Leadership
By Thomas A. Horan
Published: 20th April 2020

and from Freedom After The Sharks
The importance of Purposeful Leadership
By: Geoff Hudson-Searle

and from HEC Paris

and from Simon Leadership Alliance
5 Commitments of Purposeful Leadership
By: Mitch Simon

and from HRD Connect
Creating purposeful leadership
By: Louron Pratt
Published: 18th November 2019

Finding Meaning in Your Career
By: Pan Pan
Published: 24th July 2014

and from McKinsey Quarterly
Purpose: Shifting from Why to How
By Arne Gast, Pablo Illanes, Nina Probst, Bill Schaninger and Bruce Simpson
Published: 22nd April 2020 

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