As I meet new managers and leaders, they are very task-focused and bottom-line oriented. They often complain that their team is stuck and the company culture is not a healthy one. They share communication challenges and lack of accountability across the organization. Some are very quick to point the finger at another manager and fail to realize where the solution resides.
But how can you hold yourself accountable if you have not taken the time to reflect on who you are as a leader, why you choose to lead, and what matters to you right now? My questions to emerging leaders are, “Do you have a leadership purpose or do you know your Why?” The purpose, drive, or values that inspires you to be a leader every day?
Purpose and values are vital to successful leadership. As a leader, you can’t delegate purpose and values to Human Resources or middle management. The top executive of every company needs to believe in the values and purpose of what the organization is all about.
They need to exemplify them in a way that’s visible to everyone they engage with on a daily basis. Great leaders lead by example when they walk the talk and become stewards of purpose in their organization.
Leaders who discovered their purpose, don’t send company emails and memos. They want to connect and engage with people in their organization. They have strong convictions hat they try to live by them. They take the time to listen by soliciting people’s feedback and solve problems.
Roy Spence Jr. In the book, “It’s not what you sell, it’s what you stand for”, gives a great insight to leading with purpose-
“What is a purpose? Simply put, it’s a definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make. If you have a purpose and can articulate it with clarity and passion, everything makes sense, everything flows. You feel good about what you’re doing and clear about how to get there.”
So how can you be clear about your leadership purpose? Here are three questions to help you navigate and discover your WHY:
What do you stand for?
Purpose-based leaders know what they stand for. They identify critical values in their operating philosophy that helps them make important decisions that drive the company culture day in and day out. They are not leaving those for chance. So ask yourself today, what do you really stand for? Is it innovation? Is it Integrity? Trust? Accountability?
What problem can you help solve?
Our world is full of challenges and opportunities that call for great leadership. There are plenty of problems around us. But the real question is how do we want to help make the world a better place? How can we solve a problem today? The best leaders did not shy away from problems and challenges. Winston, Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. all faced a world in despair. But, they saw a great calling to serve humanity for generations to come.
What business are you in?
Each of us is part of a bigger whole. But what are we trying to accomplish? Better customer service? Better product? Better Innovation? As a leader of any business, we need to know why we exist. Why are we doing what we doing and who the products and services help at the end of the day? A great example of this is Apple. By creating products and services that make people’s lives easier and more effective, people identify with their brand and purpose.
Jerry Porras who wrote Built to Last shares the following insight leading with purpose in Conversations On Leadership:
“Purpose refers to the difference you’re trying to make in the world, mission is the core strategy that must be undertaken to fulfill that purpose, a vision is a vivid, imaginative conception or view of how the world will look once your purpose has been largely realized.”