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Motivate From a Clear Sense of Purpose

leadership transition Nov 01, 2023

- By Sophie Pinkoski

According to Harvard Business Review’s findings, only 20% of leaders know their individual purpose. When a leader can’t properly articulate their purpose, or even that of their organization, it makes it that much more difficult for their team to invest in their work. The pandemic has made people re-evaluate the values they prioritize in their personal lives. This is why it’s imperative to have a clearly defined purpose driving your organization and if possible, your own leadership.

Once you know your values and purpose, you can model how you live those for your team.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how you can bring a sense of organizational purpose to your team:

Identify your purpose –– Your organization's purpose should align with its mission, vision, and values. This purpose goes well beyond driving profit and maximizing results. In fact, your purpose should be indicated by the community your organization serves.

Why does your organization exist? What kind of positive change do you intend to bring to your target demographic and how can you bring it about?

Look to your clients, customers, and external audience to identify the most impactful change for them.

Communicate your purpose to your team –– The most important part of practically applying your purpose is clear communication.

Clarity of a purpose-driven vision is key to communicating your organization’s purpose to your team.

Explain it within the context of how each individual adds value to the organization in terms of fulfilling its end goals. This purpose should be compelling enough to resonate with them and their own values. They want to know that their individual contributions have meaning too.

Invest your team in the purpose –– By now, you will want to inspire and motivate your team toward acting upon your organization’s purpose. This involves finding ways to apply their skills and passions to achieve the overall purpose. To do so, your team members may need additional training, mentoring, or coaching to help them adapt to the new purpose and tap into their full potential. A person-first, supportive culture built on psychological safety is necessary here to ensure your team feels comfortable enough to approach you for additional help when they need it.

Implement your organization’s purpose –– In order to implement your organization’s purpose in actionable ways, you should shift your team’s focus toward big picture thinking.

Keep the long-term vision of your organization front of mind in everything you and your team do, then break down this big picture into smaller tasks to keep your team on track.

These activities should yield measurable results that will ultimately build toward your long-term goals. This sense of working toward a higher purpose helps further motivate your team. Let them know how their work is meaningful not only to them, but to the people it will impact one day. Show them the tangible progress they are making toward something truly important and worth their while.

As a leader, you have the power to hone your focus so that everything you do goes toward fulfilling your organization's purpose. When your team sees you role-modeling these actions and exemplifying the values you live by, they will be empowered to do the same.

Clearly communicating your organization's purpose will help them better understand how their skills are invaluable to achieving it.

They’re much more likely to grasp how each task they put their skills and passions toward furthers the organization’s goals, and in extension, how they themselves are making a difference to the world at large.


Further Reading

Sinek, Simon. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Penguin Books, New York: 2009.

Sinek, Simon. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't. Penguin Books, New York: 2014.

Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Riverhead Books, 2009.

Mackey, John & Sisodia, Raj. Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business. Harvard Business Review Press: 2014.

Brown, Brené. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Avery: 2015.

Heifetz, Ronald A. & Linsky, Marty. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Change. Harvard Business Review Press: 2002.

Purpose-Driven Leaders: Tips For Creating 3 Boundaries Essential To Your Success, Forbes

From Purpose to Impact, Harvard Business Review

How to Be a Purpose-Driven Leader Without Burning Out, Harvard Business Review

Leading with Purpose: Why Purpose-Driven Leadership is the Key to Success, LinkedIn

What is Purpose-Driven Leadership?, Sidecar Global

How Purpose-driven Leadership is Used By Great Organizations, EHL.edu

Three Core Characteristics of a Purposeful Leader, EY UK

The Power of Purpose-Driven Leadership, Korn Ferry

Purpose-Driven Leadership: A Complete Guide, All Activity

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