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Finding and Implementing Purpose through Leadership

For employees at all levels, the purpose must be genuine, having a clear and genuine purpose is essential.

When business leaders are driven by purpose, they make a personal commitment to infuse meaning into every aspect of their organizations. They understand that a leader's commitment to purpose is a fundamental requirement. As a former senior vice president at LinkedIn stated, "The executive team must unanimously prioritize this before anything else." This is the crucial starting point. The most important duty of a leader is to "connect people with their purpose."

Even when leaders may not believe in it, pressure from board members, investors, employees, and other stakeholders forces them to articulate a greater purpose. When a company proclaims its mission and values but its senior leadership contradicts these statements, they become empty words. This duplicity erodes employee trust and is detrimental. Effective leaders realize that their involvement is just the beginning. To fully realize the company's purpose, employees at all levels must live it.

Employees sense a leader's dedication when they consistently and genuinely communicate the purpose. This instils belief in the mission, leading to realignment. The transformation starts at the top and permeates the entire organization. Furthermore, leaders recognize that learning and development are powerful motivators. Employees have a genuine desire to grow, learn, and contribute. Leaders can enhance the learning process by helping staff understand how it connects to the broader mission.

Leaders aiming to build and sustain purpose-driven businesses can draw inspiration and guidance from the human experience. Stories, rather than statistics, are how people connect with each other, and businesses can use stories to measure their success in achieving their goals. These stories may encapsulate a company's founding legacy, historical narrative, or feature heartfelt testimonials from stakeholders whose lives have been touched by the business. Such stories inspire businesses to live out their purpose, motivating both employees and leaders at every level.

In addition, middle managers play a crucial role in fostering an inspired and committed workforce. They must not only understand the organization's mission but also deeply resonate with it and lead with moral authority. This goes beyond typical expectations for mid-level employees and accelerates their personal and professional growth. Discovering one's mission and having the courage to fulfill it is a vital aspect of leadership growth, as referred to as "purpose to effect" by HBR.

Once top and middle-level leaders have integrated the organization's purpose, it is essential to help frontline employees understand how it relates to their daily tasks. However, a top-down mandate is not effective. Employee involvement in this process is crucial, as it increases the likelihood of the purpose permeating the culture and influencing behavior, even in the absence of direct management oversight.

Discovering one's own leadership purpose is not a simple task. If it were, everyone would be living in alignment with their purpose and fully aware of their life's meaning. Writing down one's leadership objective is just the beginning; one must also consider the impact of living that purpose on the world. Actions speak louder than words.

Purpose-driven plans differ significantly from traditional development plans. They start with a declaration of leadership purpose rather than a business or professional goal. Instead of neglecting one's family and personal commitments, they integrate these aspects into one's professional and personal life for a holistic approach.

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