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Leading and Engaging on Purpose: Purpose Driven Leadership

Purpose driven leadership seeks to create meaningful experiences for employees and impact that reaches beyond the boundaries of the organization.

Studies indicate that happiness and job performance are correlated with enhanced engagement, employee wellness, and organizational productivity. Like leaders, employees have their own vision of purpose for themselves-at home and at work. Leaders have the potential then to positively impact employees by connecting them to the larger vision of the organization and ensuring that employees are given the opportunity to participate in realizing this vision.

How can you as a leader bring purpose into the workplace?

Organizations are currently consider new working models as part of transitioning back to the workplace. Is your organization asking its employees to return back to full-time in person working? Perhaps you might be considering a hybrid model or offering the choice to employees who may opt to work full-time from home. As you consider the best working model, reflect on what will work best and holistically for each employee. Engage your employees in this discussion to determine not only how productive your employees are given working model, but how social connections-both in person or through creative virtual strategies, are vital to their over well-being, sense of connection to the organization, and personal fulfillment.

Employees will also be looking to organizational leaders, on how organizations will build back better-thinking beyond profitability, but also assess how organizational activities can better align with people (employees, partners, and consumers), prosperity within the communities where organizations function, and even planetary health.

The purpose mindset considers the impact of our activities and that of our organizations on stakeholders—with a commitment to making a difference in the lives of others and the community at large. The purpose mindset specifically considers how personal goals align with professional goals. The closer the alignment, the more fulfilled and likely engaged employees will be in daily activities. As an individual, how important is it to derive a sense of purpose at work? People who can align their interests, values, and beliefs at work, are more likely to find purpose in their activities. In turn, higher purpose and positive impact on others, is more likely to be associated with higher overall well-being at work, higher employee engagement, motivation, and sense of fulfillment.

In a 2010 interview with American journalist Diane Sawyer on ABC World News, Sawyer asked Steven Hawking the advice he would provide to his children. One of the pieces of advice he offered: “Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.”

Consider if employees are aware of the value they bring to the organization and how their work matters? Assess the opportunities that you can create to engage your employees, to articulate the organization’s purpose, to connect, and engage employees on purpose-be it through communications with them, making yourself available as a leader, seeking their input on charting the path forward, opportunities to connect with and innovate for consumers, and even participate in corporate social responsibility initiatives to create positive impact for the broader community.

At a more strategic level, think about your organizational purpose and determine how well aligned this purpose is with the 5Ps of people, planet, profit, prosperity, and partnership. People includes both consumers and your employees. Profitability must be connected to designing products and services that holistically augment the quality of life for consumers. Prosperity means providing meaningful workplace experiences for your employees, as they strive to innovate for consumers and engage their communities through corporate social responsibility. Profit and planet are also increasingly becoming linked to one another, as stakeholders evaluate organizations on the basis of their efforts to reduce their planetary footprint. In this respect, organizations will need to engage employees, consumers, suppliers and shareholders to drive sustainable innovation. In aligning your organization’s purpose with the 5Ps, reach out to employees to listen to their vision for your company and their expectations for you as a leader. Evaluate the communication strategies that you have used to convey the organization’s vision and impact including: virtual townhalls to provide regular updates to employees and/to solicit input from employees, digestible and relevant newsletters, even ideation platforms or programs to engage employees on strategy and program development. These strategies should have as their objective: connecting and engaging employees on purpose. In building back better, leaders will need to build back on purpose with their employees.

Reference: Lufkin, B. Stephen Hawking's advice for a fulfilling career, BBC WorkLife, March 2018.


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