This article is part of The Ascender, the Highrise platform for articles and resources.

What Is the Purpose of Leadership?

Andrew Langat
February 6, 2023
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Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position. —Brian Tracy

What drives a person to be a leader? What is the purpose of leadership?

These are typical questions that attempt to answer why we need leadership and why it matters.

Leadership, as both a science and an art, continuously evolves. As such, the purpose of leadership will continue to draw debate on areas such as the best leadership style, a leader's primary responsibility, roles senior leaders should play in shaping future leaders, etc.

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So what Exactly is the Purpose of Leadership?

The purpose of leadership is to deliver results through others. This is because others employees, team members, etc. look for direction from the leader to accomplish set objectives.

leadership purpose is usually captured in a leadership purpose statement that captures a leader's ethos, mission, beliefs, and values as a leader.

An example of a leadership purpose statement is:

"Create a respectful work environment where all employees can deliver their full potential."

Having a purpose in leadership helps organizations create effective leaders. Moreover, it enables a leader to define a vision and identify ways of helping their employees grow.

A purpose-driven leader prioritizes values and purpose over other things when making decisions on behalf of their organization.

Purpose-driven leaders, whether CEOs, departmental heads, or mid-level managers, are responsible for leading their organizations through decisions and innovations supportive of their core purposes, values, and strengths. Knowing your purpose as a leader and what you bring to the table becomes a guiding compass for your organization. 

Sharing your purpose with your team and the values you uphold in pursuing your goal will materialize the organization's importance to your employees. This would positively impact the organization's culture in the long term leading to more ethical and meaningful business and increasing employee engagement. 

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Why is Leadership Purpose Lacking?

Leadership purpose is lacking because many leaders don't possess enough self-awareness. To succeed as a leader, a leader's primary responsibility is to formulate a clear vision and identify what drives them and how they respond to external or internal stimuli.

Knowing about this makes it easier for people to follow your lead and perform tasks that you assign them and hence create a significant impact in the long term.

To be a purpose-driven leader, you need to have some self-awareness. You will know your values and how they align with the company through self-awareness. Once you know your purpose and values, it will be easier to communicate them to your team and lead by them.

To lead, you must master emotional intelligence and be proactive rather than reactive. Assess the situation and make the best decision that suits the task.

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How Do You Adopt a Purposeful Mindset in Leadership?

In an unpredictable business world that keeps changing, having a static leader will mean that your organization will remain behind. To keep up, you need to keep changing and have a dynamic leader who keeps questioning assumptions and beliefs.

To adopt a purposeful mindset as a leader, you need to:

1. Establish your purpose.

Effective leaders serve a clear purpose. This is the only way to ensure effective leadership in the long term.

The first step is to define your purpose statement. As a leader, you must find out what matters to you, your ambitions and values, and how you want to view the world. Your unique personal purpose will work for you.

Once you have established your purpose, you can look at how it aligns with your leadership role in your current job in relation to the organization's goals.

2. Understand the leadership purpose mindset.

Leaders without purpose and change in leadership style will lack the passion for persevering in the face of adversity. With intention, a leader will create a respectful work environment that helps deliver results and improve performance for the organization.

According to research by Korn Ferry, leaders with a clear leadership purpose often ascended to more challenging roles and even boasted an average leadership tenure of about 18 years.

A clearly defined goal will be a north star that keeps your organization steady and help you overcome challenges. Communicating your purpose to your team will ensure that you collectively move in the same direction.

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Why Should Organizations maintain a sense of purpose?

Organizations need to harbor a sense of purpose more than anything in their employees. Here is why;

1. It gives employees a sense of meaning.

Organizations need to implement purposeful Leadership because it provides employees meaning. Some employees will work hours, not for the thrill of making more money but because they are genuinely vested in the organization's long-term goals. This is only possible if they have a meaning which is a significant component of purpose.

2. It clarifies Strategies.

The reason for implementing purpose-driven Leadership is to offer more clarity of the organization's purpose and strategies. Deriving the true essence of the approach will help your team to focus on the goals set.

If the strategies are not clarified, the employees will not derive meaning from them or understand the expected impact.

3. It drives inspiration and motivation.

Having a purpose can motivate and inspire employees. Employees' morale in a work environment can easily change, and frustration can creep in because they might be giving their best and encountering continuous failures. At this point a leader, you should inspire and motivate your team, give them a purpose, a meaningful one that can give them the gas to keep on going.

4. It Eases Transformation.

Transformation in any organization is inevitable, and you can face resistance while implementing it. The employees can become overwhelmed with changes and may even think of leaving because they don't have clarity about the need for transformation.

So as a leader, it would help if you eased the process by providing your team with a purpose that explains the meaning of transformation and its impact on the future.

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Characteristics of a purpose-driven leader.

Purpose-driven leaders emphasize their values and purpose while making company decisions and formulating their competitive strategies.

Here are some traits of a purpose-driven leader:

1. They Communicate their Values and Purpose regularly.

Proper communication is a sure way to bring about change and achieve success in an organization. Good leaders who are purpose-driven communicate their values and the company's vision and purpose regularly. This shows a drive towards a purpose-driven environment and demonstrates their self-awareness.

2. They are ethically responsible.

Purpose-driven leaders look at every decision critically and make morally responsible choices. Some decisions can be profitable and legal but not ethical. These leaders will always put ethics first, knowing they will best align with their values and purpose.

3. They think big.

A purpose-led leader will not settle for the bottom line, but they always look at the big picture. They care about their organization's purpose and vision and work to achieve its goals.

4. They Avoid distractions.

 Distractions have become a big problem in corporate America, where management has become too far removed from their customers and employees, viewing them as numbers instead of people. Purpose-driven leaders consistently try to stay connected with their customers and front-line employees, keeping them at the forefront of their decision-making.

5. They Lead by example.

Purpose-driven leaders set the tone for others and surround themselves with those with the same values and purpose. This practice enables these leaders to grow an entire purpose-driven organization or team.

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What are the benefits of having purposeful Leadership?

1. Builds up Consistency.

Leaders whose actions align with their purpose are consistent with their responses, even in a rapidly changing business environment. When employees know how their leader will act, it increases their engagement and satisfaction, leading to increased productivity. 

Consistency does not mean the leader cannot make appropriate changes based on new information and changing dynamics. It just means they take the time to explain why they have changed direction and help others understand why the change aligns with the values and purpose of the organization. 

If a leader does not behave consistently, employees do not feel safe to take action and feel they need to wait to see what they are asked to do before taking action. Even if employees know what they should do, they will hesitate. Inconsistency leads to uncertainty, delays, and additional stress for employees.

2. It establishes healthy Boundaries

A leader's purpose is a guide for making good decisions about prioritizing their limited time and energy. This clarity of purpose-driven decision-making allows leaders to create healthy boundaries for investing their time and energy.

Unfortunately, some self-serving leaders take time to define and continually refine their unique leadership purpose. This is a mistake because leaders who demonstrate a clear and meaningful purpose experience many benefits for themselves and their teams.

Influential and inspirational leaders are concise about defining their leadership purpose and aligning their daily actions to that purpose. They understand that this is the foundation for authenticity, meaning, and well-being as a leader.

3. It Improves well-being and motivation.

Progress toward meaningful work is a blueprint for maximizing a leader's effort, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence. These are necessary for a leader to achieve their full potential. 

Your work as a leader should allow you to experience the following: high energy and enthusiasm, commitment to the organization, workgroup, and role, consistent levels of excellence, and a clear vision of desired outcomes

Great leaders understand that a clear and meaningful purpose is the foundation for authenticity, motivation, and well-being throughout their leadership journey.

Inspiring, isn’t it ? Want to learn more about connecting self-awareness to professional development? Get in touch today.

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Looking for More Purpose in your Leadership?

We all aspire to be influential leaders, but many lack strategies to validate efforts. At Highrise, we give the right tools to ensure that you deliver effective leadership that will increase your chances of success in your role.

Reach out to us today for consultation on how to get started.

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Andrew Langat
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Andrew Langat is an experienced content specialist in Leadership, Productivity, Education, Fintech, and Research. He is an avid reader and loves swimming as a hobby. He believes that quality content should be actionable and helpful.