Throughout history, we have remembered leaders who are considered exceptional. Many of these individuals are notable because of specific characteristics and traits that made them stand out – perhaps they were gifted orators or incredibly skilled organizers. These people are celebrated because of the significant contributions they made to their families, communities, and countries. These men and women are purpose-driven leaders.
Many people look to leaders who have impacted history – Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill and Melinda Gates– as role models, and aspire to emulate them. To many, these leaders are successful not because of their wealth, but because of the purpose with which they live or lived their lives.
As humans, we desire to live with purpose. This is truer now more than ever. Millennials have been dubbed the purpose-driven generation. More than 50% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values and over 90% of millennials want to use their skills for good. Millennials want to find purpose in their work and are willing to make sacrifices in order to find a job they consider meaningful.
While we might understand why it’s important to provide purpose in work, there is still a larger question we need to answer: how do we create purpose at work? This is where purpose-driven leaders come in.
Purpose-driven leaders are individuals who are able to inspire and motivate others through their deep belief in a cause. They are able to see their day-to-day activities as more than just meaningless tasks and see their role as critical to an organization, team, or community. They are self-aware, emotionally intelligent, and motivational people who are able to deeply understand their peers and bring out the best in those around them.
Creating a ‘Why?’ for your teams is not easy, but it is crucial to the long-term satisfaction and success of your workforce. Team members who believe the work they do is important are more likely to be engaged and productive team members. While competent managers may be able to get the job done, purpose-driven leaders are able to motivate and inspire their employees on a deeper level.
Purpose-driven leaders see their daily work as absolutely critical to the mission of their endeavor. They are not only able to see how they contribute to the bigger picture, but they are able to define why their venture is doing the work they are doing. Their capacity to articulate their purpose is essential to the success of their team. Before they can motivate people to believe in a cause, purpose-driven leaders must be able to define the meaning behind the work for themselves.
Other purpose-driven leaders might be able to define purpose at work by getting their teams involved in their local or global community through volunteer work and other philanthropic efforts. Keeping teams connected to their communities can help showcase purpose at work by demonstrating that leadership skills developed in business are useful and critical to the community at large.
Purpose-driven leaders are able to put the work they are doing in a larger context – one that helps team members understand why they are doing the work they are doing every day.
Purpose-driven leaders are able to do more than define purpose at work. They are able to connect with their team and motivate them to care about a cause, too. Purpose-driven leaders care about their team as people. They want them to find purpose and fulfillment in their work. They understand how to bring out the best in their team and help them find the work that plays to their strengths. While a good manager might be able to do this, a purpose-driven leader is able to take it a step further.
These types of leaders are able to make their team members feel valued and make them feel like they are critical to the success of the cause. This ability really taps into humans’ desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone wants that feeling, and purpose-driven leaders are able to make their team members feel like their contribution makes them a part of a movement.