The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain
Over the last few years, there has been a hive of interest surrounding purpose-driven leadership. Research has found that as a leader, knowing your true purpose can lead to exceptional performance, greater health, well-being, and clarity in your role as the custodian of the organisation’s purpose where you work. Purpose springs from your identity and is the essence of your true self.
Harvard Business Review published an article that read,
‘ … fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose’ (Craig & Scott A, 2014).
I am sure this percentage shocked you as much as it did me. Many people think they know their purpose but can’t clearly articulate it.
Think of the clearly articulated purpose of Google, ‘ to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’, or that of Richard Branson’s Virgin Unite foundation, ‘ … to unite people and entrepreneurial ideas to create opportunities for a better world’. Both of these purposes are clear, concise and have intent. Purpose is linked to your outcome, where you are heading, why you are doing what you do and why and where you are directing your team. Don’t make the mistake of getting attached to your outcome; be open to change if needed. A well-achieved purpose has to be on purpose, or there is no point. Think about how you want to feel and work this back.
Dr Simon Moss has extensively researched purpose, and his findings conclude that when people experience a sense of meaning and purpose, they become more responsible, resilient, and rational.
In particular, he found that when an individual enjoys a sense of purpose and meaning, they tend to orient their attention to future needs and, therefore, resist immediate temptations. Consequently, impulsive behaviour diminishes. Because they orient their attention to future needs, rather than immediate emotions, individuals who feel a sense of purpose and meaning embrace the unpleasant emotions—the uncertainty, the ambiguity, and the anxiety, for example—that growth and development entails. In turn, they become more resilient over time.
By embracing uncertainty, ambiguity, and other negative emotions, people who feel a sense of purpose and meaning are not as susceptible to a raft of cognitive biases.
To propel you forward as a leader, you need true purpose connected to your core values, so you can lead and act with accountability, become fully aligned and move your team and organisation to where it needs to go fro the right reasons.