Purpose as a core element of leadership

Leadership Development

I’ve been reflecting recently on the importance of purpose for our performance as leaders.

It felt really refreshing to be back at the Wellbeing at Work Summit this month. You can see my presentation at the event here. The title of my paper was “The role of leadership in developing a wellbeing strategy”

The role of leadership in developing a wellbeing strategy

In principle it’s quite a dry title. The word strategy is one of those ‘important words’ we use in business. Having a strategy means we know what we’re doing and where we’re going. Leadership is another ‘important word’. Becoming a good leader is integral to business success. 

One of the important pieces of context for thinking about wellbeing at the moment is the idea of returnism. That as we all return to work we bring with us worries, anxieties, apprehensions and stresses. After a difficult few years the return can feel as challenging as some of what we have been through. And this presents huge challenges for us as business leaders. It is impacting on staff retention – for many people the return isn’t a return, it’s a resignation. It’s also impacting on productivity – stress and anxiety is a barrier to innovation, energy and focus, not a source of it. And we live in a world where it can feel as though every day there are more, not less things to worry and feel stressed about. 

Purpose in leadership

I think the antidote and the answer to some of this is in reminding ourselves of our purpose. 

As my paper says – Employees are looking for so much more than employment. They’re looking for fulfilment, happiness and even joy. 

Our sense of purpose is where we find this.

All of us spend a great deal of time in work. 

Working purposefully can feel very different to working reactively. It makes work a source of fulfilment, happiness and joy. Not all the time. Not every moment. But if we can step back from our work, however hard it may be, and say “I know why I do this” then the underlying feeling is one that creates resilience and energy rather than sapping it. 

Companies that have a clear sense of purpose and articulate this through their values and behaviours are much more able to make “returnism” something happy or joyful. A community of people regathering and regrouping behind a shared sense of purpose. 

One of the hallmarks of great leaders and powerful business strategies is that they have a deep understanding of their own sense of purpose and consistently communicate this to others both in words and action. 

Can you define your purpose?

It’s an important question for any leader. How would you answer these questions?

  • Do you know what your inner sense of purpose is?
  • Can you clearly articulate this to others?
  • Do you model it in actions?

Finding, expressing and demonstrating your own purposefulness is both self rewarding and a vital element of our roles as leaders.

Want to take this further?

If you’re responsible for implementing coaching in your organisation and would like to talk more about this then I’d love to chat. 

We are all going through tough and challenging times. If you’d like to talk to someone about finding your own purpose and using it to become better and better at leading and supporting as you develop strategy and manage change, we’re here to support and listen as well.. 

by | 29 Mar 2022

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