My mentor told me years ago that I could increase my value at work by having a strong focus on my purpose. This bit of advice resonated with me because my mother used to tell me that once I identified my purpose in life, I would be better able to eliminate items and issues that were misaligned and/or causing undue stress and anxiety.
I have incredible respect for both my mentor and my mother and, therefore, I have thoughtfully considered my purpose within my career, volunteer, and private lives.
Today, I thought I’d share with you my ideas about “Purpose Driven Leadership.” These are, I believe, the four main objectives of any leader.
Purpose #1) Increase their team’s morale, satisfaction and engagement
Contented cows give more milk. I believe leaders are responsible for ensuring their teams are content. We can do so by facilitating two-way communication in the workplace and coordinating knowledge sharing, mentoring and coaching activities. We should design the work, identify team roles, and delegate activities while ensuring we figuratively plow with plow horses and race with racehorses. We must provide the tools, tangible and otherwise, to our teams to help facilitate team building, development and effectiveness. Finally, we must authentically care about our team’s morale and beliefs in the work and demonstrate such by engaging in discussions about it, trying new things to increase and improve it, and culling the toxic conditions that threaten it.
Purpose #2) Increase the organization’s bottom line
I don’t care if a leader is in a revenue producing program or revenue sucking (support) program. Regardless of whether his/her team adds to revenue or overhead, the leader must analyze how to add to the bottom line. Sometimes, this means he/she analyzes the organizational structure and how it affects decision making, problem solving and efficiency. Leaders need to look in the mirror once and awhile and see how their leadership and management style could be negatively affecting efficiency, consistency, retention, etc. I believe leaders need to analyze costs and resources and identify ways to decrease them without threatening quality, service and workforce issues. They need to commit to analyzing and improving processes to decrease waste and redundancy. Finally, leaders need to model “cost savings” behavior to communicate the significance of such to their teams.
Purpose #3) Increase leadership capacity of others
Increasing another person’s capacity for leadership doesn’t diminish our own. Therefore, all leaders should mentor their peers and subordinates accordingly. They should advise and coach others regarding things like leadership styles, conflict resolution strategies and communication techniques. They should mentor and assist with creative problem solving and encourage/probe others to “think harder” when they find themselves in a pickle. They should share their expertise, connections, and information and encourage others to do the same. They should encourage their peers and teams to better understand human dynamics and help them work with and for each other. Finally, they should model networking, relationship building, and authentic connectivity and encourage others to build upon their own competencies in this regard.
Purpose #4) Decrease the organization’s risk
There are countless “risks” for any organization. Whether it be regarding compliance, health and safety, reputation, or other areas for risk, leaders must work towards decreasing and/or managing it. Strong leaders are vigilant in identifying or forecasting long term risk and planning accordingly. Moreover, they mindfully consider current issues against strategic risk management before jumping to conclusions and/or making decisions. Leaders understand the importance of consistent application of policies and processes as inconsistency often leads to unwanted risk, and commit to following these protocols even when it’s inconvenient or harder to do so. Effective leaders understand the importance of workforce involvement, analysis and decision making and how these are directly correlated with decreased risk and liability; therefore, they commit to enabling broad and cross-functional discussions accordingly.
Purpose Driven Leadership
Are there other objectives of leadership? Of course there are but I believe the purposes identified above help keep leaders focused and increasingly valuable to their positions, their teams and their organizations.