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 differenceMitchell 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.
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
- Inspire: a common vision in those around you
- Engage: every team member in activities that are meaningful
- Innovate: products and processes with purpose
- Achieve: results through drive, structure and clarity
- 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.
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.
- 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 https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2019/02/12/to-be-a-purposeful-leader-it-takes-a-village/?sh=5f3d25696090 and from Leader to Leader (University of Pittsburgh) The Arc of Purposeful Leadership By Thomas A. Horan Published: 20th April 2020 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ltl.20509 and from Freedom After The Sharks The importance of Purposeful Leadership By: Geoff Hudson-Searle https://freedomafterthesharks.com/2020/02/17/the-importance-of-purposeful-leadership/ and from HEC Paris https://www.hec.edu/en/faculty-research/centers/society-organizations-institute/purposeful-leadership and from Simon Leadership Alliance 5 Commitments of Purposeful Leadership By: Mitch Simon https://simonleadershipalliance.com/executive-leadership-skills/5-commitments-of-purposeful-leadership/ and from HRD Connect Creating purposeful leadership By: Louron Pratt Published: 18th November 2019 https://www.hrdconnect.com/2019/11/18/creating-purposeful-leadership/ and from INSEAD KNOWLEDGE Finding Meaning in Your Career By: Pan Pan Published: 24th July 2014 https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/finding-meaning-in-your-career-3481 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 https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/purpose-shifting-from-why-to-how