How to Lead Better with Purpose
Prominent purpose researchers have defined purpose as “a central, self-organizing life aim.” Purpose helps us organize, prioritize, and stimulate progress toward goals, manage our behaviors, and provide a sense of meaning and connection. It helps us direct finite personal resources such as energy and time to areas and people in our life that matter most. In other words, it is the reason why you do what you do, and why it matters.
Purpose gives you direction, motivation, and clarity in your leadership role. It also helps you connect with your employees, customers, and stakeholders on a deeper level.
Based on our work with thousands of leaders, we’ve boiled down some practical steps you can take (and a suggested order for taking them) to gain all the benefits of being a Purposeful Leader:
- Cultivate your personal purpose. What are your values, passions, and strengths? What impact do you want to have on the world? How does your role align with your purpose? Write down your personal purpose statement and use it as a guide for your decisions and actions.
- Model your purpose. Show how you live by your purpose every day. Be consistent, authentic, and transparent in your actions. Demonstrate how you align your behavior with the organization’s values and expectations. Inspire others by sharing stories of how you overcame challenges or achieved success by following your purpose.
- Seek to understand your team’s individual and collective purpose. What are the motivations, aspirations, and talents of each member of your team? What is their unique contribution to the team and the organization? What is the common goal that unites them as a team? Ask them about their purposes and listen actively. Recognize their strengths and achievements. Help them grow and develop.
- Empower others to pursue their purposes. Give your team members autonomy, and feedback. Encourage them to take initiative, experiment, and learn from failures. Find ways to help others connect their personal purpose with their roles, activities, and the organization’s purpose.
- Connect your personal purpose with your organization’s purpose, and your team’s personal purposes with a collective sense of purpose. Our research at Kumanu shows that an organization’s culture can greatly impact its people’s sense of belonging, engagement, ability to manage their emotional state and ultimately burnout. In fact, we’ve developed the Purposeful Culture Index, our proprietary index which assesses how well individuals feel connected to and supported by their organization. Individuals who score high on the Purposeful Culture Index are less burned out, more engaged and more likely to stay at their organization. See more of our results here.
By using purpose as the fuel for your leadership, you can unleash the energy and performance of your people and foster a culture of growth, dignity, and trust.
About the Author
Robert Carr, MD, MPH, FACPM
Chief Medical Officer
Robert Carr was most recently Senior Vice President & Corporate Medical Director at GlaxoSmithKline and on the faculty at Georgetown University. He received his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Miami School of Medicine and his Masters of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Hygiene and Public Health. Bob also served as the President of the American College of Preventive Medicine
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