Here’s how you should lead with a purpose

The process of articulating one’s purpose and finding the courage to live it is an important step for any leader. Finding one’s purpose provides tremendous clarity and motivation not only to oneself but it also inspires the teams and businesses that the leader operates in. People Matters in association with XED Learning Solutions conducted a webcast titled “Are you leading with a purpose?” The webinar was led by Prof. Allan Filipowicz, Associate Dean at Cornell University.

What does it mean to ‘lead with purpose?’

Global business megatrends ranging from technological upheaval, the complexity of operations, managing multigenerational workforce & diversity have necessitated business transformation. Making leadership an important component to confront challenges of the business environment.

When you find meaning and purpose attached to work, it helps you stay engaged and inspired. And this clarity can help you translate ideas into action and to convince others to get inspired and to perform exceptionally well, thereby making your work life fulfilling.

There are four critical components to ‘leading with purpose’:

  1. Identifying and articulating a compelling vision for the future.
  2. Serve as an appropriate role model to the community, i.e., your employees, peers, clients, etc.
  3. Foster the acceptance of group goals to get the group along with you to achieve the purpose/end goal.
  4. Set high-performance expectations in order to drive others to do things and to do it well.

What happens when we lead with a purpose?

Leading with purpose helps us in:  1) Giving one a compass for navigating through complexity, volatility, and ambiguity. 2) Provides motivation to work. 3) Moves other people around you to be more motivated, engaged, be creative and productive.

How do I find my purpose?

One of the challenges faced by leaders today is that they tend not to be driven by purpose but by the difficulties of challenges. They never give themselves the luxury to understand what drives them.

Tell yourself a story:  When were you at your spectacular best? What did you love doing as a child? What drives, energizes and excites you? What brings you joy? What is your most challenging life experiences? What types of challenges do you overcome?

Reach out to the people around you: Ask your friends, your colleagues, etc. about the time you were at your best. When did you make a difference?

Pull out a unifying theme: Collect the series of stories – one that you tell yourself and others tell about you. Put these stories together to identify common themes.  These stories will let you identify the unifying data points needed to craft your purpose. If you work on this exercise and get bored, then you are not getting close to the time when you were at your best.

What can I do once I find my purpose?

Identify Behaviors: Identify behaviors that either helps you or keeps you away from doing purpose-driven work. For example, you might not be able to work when you are angry. Hence, anger makes it difficult to do purpose-driven work.

Social: Know the social environment that surrounds you. Be acquainted with what people around you are doing when you are at your best. Identify the characteristics of the people who act as enablers and inhibitors to your purpose.

Physical Environment: Identify the physical constraints that withhold you from doing purpose-driven work. For example, “I cannot learn in a noisy and crowded environment.” Know the physical constraints that inhibit your capability and capacity to work.

Leading without a purpose is not only unproductive to you but also the workforce you are leading. Leading with a clear purpose concentrates the talent and energy of those around you, increases productivity, encourages innovation.

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