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Blog and Insights, Dr. Bob Carr

Making an Impact -
Leadership on Purpose

Having a purpose in life can make you a better leader in many ways. Our research with organizations shows that many common leadership attributes are enhanced in those who are guided by a strong connection to their purpose in life. By aligning your actions with your values and vision, you gain a clear direction and intention in life that guides your decisions and behaviors. You can better communicate your vision and values to others, inspire them to follow you, and motivate yourself and others to achieve your goals. 

By exploring your leadership purpose, you gain insight into areas such as:

  • what you love to do as a leader
  • what positive impact you want to have on the world
  • what relationships you want to nurture or establish
  • how others are impacted by your leadership
  • what has changed because of your leadership, and 
  • what legacy you want to leave as a leader. 

Knowing your ‘why’ fuels your passion and drive to pursue your goals and overcome challenges and obstacles. It also motivates others to join you in your mission and increase their engagement and performance. It also makes you more curious and interested in learning new things while being open to feedback and improvement.

 As Vic Strecher noted in a prior blog post, in Kumanu’s national research on employees done with Harris Poll, we find that those answering affirmatively to the question “My company helps me fulfill my personal purpose for working” are 3-times more likely to intend staying in their job. 

Vic points out that we also found in our January 2023 national survey with the Harris Poll that full-time employees answering affirmatively to the question “My organization tries to understand my purpose for working” are 3-times more likely to be fully engaged in their work, 80% are more likely to intend staying in their job, and 45% less likely to be burned out. 

Connecting your purpose in life to your role at work not only increases your wellbeing and happiness, making you feel fulfilled and satisfied with your work while enhancing your self-esteem and sense of belonging. It also impacts others. Our attitude shows in our external behaviors. Everything we display in our own behaviors affects the attitude of others. Human relationships are self-reinforcing, mutually dependent systems.

A strong connection to one’s purpose makes people feel more open, inspired, and grateful with positive impacts on others as well as organizations. Which can have a positive ripple effect as seen below.

Aligning your personal and organizational purposes can help you refuel your leadership, clarify your values, and create synergy through alignment. When you discover how your purpose in life overlaps with your organization’s objective, you unleash a powerful drive to positively impact what you care about most. 

To achieve this synergy, you can start by clarifying your purpose and passions:

  • Identify what ignites your enthusiasm as a leader and envision the accomplishments you would strive for if you were unrestricted and knew you couldn’t fail. 
  • Name the core principles that guide your choices and the causes that ignite your imagination. By understanding what is personally most important, you will unleash energy and renewed momentum for impact. 
  • Consider the purpose and potential impact of your organization. As the organization is a vehicle for you to achieve your purpose in life, try to better understand its mission, values, and long-term objectives and how they align with your values and goals. 
  • Create a culture that nurtures and celebrates alignment between personal leadership purpose and organizational goals. Remember that if personal and organizational unity holds significance for you, it is likely to be valued by others as well.
  • Finally, embrace how employees and teams make a meaningful contribution to the common purpose by understanding their personal purpose in life as well as taking advantage of each of their unique strengths and experiences. 

Great leaders know that a clear and meaningful purpose is the foundation for authenticity, motivation, and effectiveness. By connecting to their purpose in life, they gain a sense of direction and intention that guides their decisions and behaviors. 

Are you ready to connect to your purpose in life and become a more effective leader? Start by identifying what ignites your enthusiasm as a leader and envisioning the accomplishments you would strive for.  By understanding what is personally most important, you will unleash energy and renewed momentum for impact. Take the first step towards becoming a more purposeful and effective leader today!

About the Author

Bob Carr Leadership Photo

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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