5 Principles of Purposeful Leadership

In our last blog, we talked about human-centric leadership. This week, we want to expand on that concept by sharing The 5 Principles of Purposeful Leadership article which reinforces that today’s model of leadership requires a different kind of leader.

In his recent Harvard Business Review article, Hubert Joly, who is the former chairman and CEO of Best Buy, and the co-author of The Heart of Business, highlights that the traditional model of “leader-hero” (one who leads with authority, who might be the smartest person in the room and saves the day) is not appropriate in today’s environment. 

He presents five attributes that characterize leaders who are able to unleash the kind of human magic you see at work at some of the most high-performing companies. 

The old-school style of leading - do as I say, not as I do - just doesn’t cut it in today’s environment. Joly explains that while each company needs to define its own leadership point of view, here’s the philosophy they deployed at Best Buy as part of their surprising turnaround and resurgence. 

Be clear about your purpose.

That is, your purpose, the purpose of those around you, and how that connects to your company’s purpose.

The staggering number of employees leaving their jobs or seriously thinking about it over the last several months has shed renewed light on the pre-Covid realization that purpose, both individual and collective, is at the heart of business. He explains that for corporate purposes, to be successful, leaders themselves must first be clear about what drives them and the people around them. 

Really think about this. If you do not know what drives you and those around you, how can you be successful as a leader to help connect their purpose with the organization’s to create a common, overarching connection for all team members?

Be clear about your role.

A leader’s key role is to create energy and momentum, especially when circumstances are challenging and difficult. Your role as a leader is to help others see possibilities and potential, creating energy, inspiration, and hope. It’s all about bringing people together to collaborate, solve problems (big and small), offer them autonomy to do great work, and be there to support during the highs and lows.

It isn’t about follow me. I have all the answers. It’s now about I am here at the table with you. How can I help? What role do you want me to play to support your success? In addition, offer inspiration by creating a safe space where they can ideate without criticism, and connect on the human level by offering opportunities that lean into their purpose.

Be clear about whom you serve.

A fundamental element of purposeful leadership is to be clear about who you serve in your position, both during good and challenging times. As a leader, you must serve the people on the front lines, who are driving your business forward. You serve your colleagues, board of directors and you serve the people around you by first understanding what they need to give their best, so you can do your best to support them.

Joly suggests viewing everyone as a “customer” and before speaking or acting, be clear about your motivation and whom you’re trying to serve. His thinking is so aligned with “servant leadership”, and we know this style of leadership is effective as it has stood the test of time.

Be driven by values.

Most organizations have defined their own corporate values that are intended to shape and influence the thinking and behaviors that align people on how to interact with one another – which is part of establishing their company culture.  

As leaders, being driven by values means that you say and do what’s right vs knowing or saying what’s right. We have to walk the walk and talk the talk. It is our responsibility to role model and promote the company values in our own behavior and align our people with these values, so they, too, understand what is most important. More mature organizations have their values embedded as part of performance reviews/evaluations in parallel to delivering against specific key performance indicators and objectives that contribute to the company's bottom line results.    

When our personal values are not in alignment with the organization’s values, or perhaps our respective leaders’ values, we might choose to deflect out or look for new opportunities within the company. But when we are all in alignment, that is where high performance has the opportunity to thrive, as we feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Leaders have a responsibility to ensure they are not only role modelling the corporation’s values, but they understand their own values and the values of the people they need to support.  

Be authentic.

If you are not willing to show others who you are, your true character and authentic self, then why would those around you be willing to do the same? Businesses are successful when they take care of their people – everyone is in the “people business” and when leaders understand that it is all about human connection and establishing meaningful relationships with others and supporting their success – amazing things happen.

I really like the self-reflective questions that are offered in the article, and I want to share them with you:

  • Have you decided what kind of leader you want to be?
  • How would you describe your purpose?
  • How would you describe your role?
  • What are you doing to create an environment in which others can thrive and flourish?
  • Who are you serving?
  • What values define you?
  • Are you doing your best to be authentic, approachable, and vulnerable?

What are your thoughts on the 5 Principles of Purposeful Leadership? Is there anything missing or that you would like to build on? How are these principles showing up for you? We want to hear your feedback and insights on this topic, so please reach out.

You can email me at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca or call 1.855.871.3374.

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