Today’s leaders must operate from an authentic and impactful place — one that centers on building trust, creating a safe space for team members to share their best thinking, and challenging them to go above and beyond. Today’s employees demand more than just a paycheck; they want to be inspired, challenged, engaged, and develop new skills that will advance their careers.
In this article, we’ll explore how leading on purpose is the new leadership paradigm. Practices that support this style of leading are essential to succeeding in your organization and as a leader of your team. You’ll gain insight into who you are as a leader, how you influence others, your personal growth areas, and what it takes to create psychological safety and trust with your team and other stakeholders, so they feel safe sharing their best thinking. You’ll also learn proven techniques for creating organizational and career influence as an effective leader. Let’s get started!
Welcome to the Culture Shift: Why Leading on Purpose is Now More Important Than Ever
Why is leading on purpose so important? Well, why don’t we take a trip back in time — oh, about 20 years. Back then, leadership was a very different ball game. Leaders were expected to focus on their individual performance and deliverables; putting their team members first was a nice to have, not a must-have. But things have changed. Thanks to the introduction of technology, an online culture and an increase in remote work, leaders now have less visibility into what’s happening across their teams, which makes it harder for them to manage and motivate their direct reports.
As a result, managers are often left with two options: cut the number of team members they oversee so they can have clear sight into what everyone is working on, or increase the amount of time they spend managing each person. Neither of these are sustainable options.
Managers typically don’t want to cut their team members in half, and their team members don’t want to spend more time reporting on their work, getting feedback, or being managed. But what’s the alternative? That’s where leading on purpose comes in. This new leadership paradigm allows leaders to see what’s happening across their teams without having to increase the amount of time they spend managing, and allows team members to take ownership of their work and their careers without having to report to their manager.
To understand how to lead on purpose, you must be good at influencing the direction of your work and the decisions being made.
Influence is the ability to have an impact on those around you (with or without formal power)., whether it be co-workers, direct reports, clients, or stakeholders. It’s a skill that can be learned and developed.
If you want to be an effective leader, you must be able to influence others — and they’re going to want to work with someone who can influence them in a positive way.
Below are some of the key characteristics of influence and how they apply to leading on purpose.
- Inspiration: Influence is the ability to inspire action. It’s the skill of helping others see what’s possible and motivating them to take action to achieve shared goals.
- Authenticity: Leading on purpose requires you to be authentic, which means you have to operate from your true self and put your best self forward. You can’t fake authenticity or expect to have a positive impact on others if you’re not being genuine and real.
- Empathy: Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their perspective and challenges is called empathy. It’s a critical skill that successful leaders use to build strong relationships and create a safe space for team members to share their best thinking.
- Curiosity and Inclusion: To influence others, you must get curious about their goals and priorities and expand your thinking to include the perspectives of others. The more inclusive you are, the greater the chance of gaining buy-in for your ideas.
The Differences Between Career Influence and Organizational Influence
Career influence is the ability to have an impact on an individual’s career and help them to progress and advance. It’s being a champion for someone else. Organizational influence is the ability to have an impact on an organization’s culture and help it progress and advance toward its strategic goals. Having strong levels of both can be essential for leaders to help their organizations become high-performing and successful.
But what can you do to strengthen these skills and become a more effective leader? The good news is that there are a number of practices you can commit to that will help you to positively impact your team, your organization, and others’ careers. In turn, your career will flourish.
Personally, a great place to start in becoming a more influential leader is to practice self-care. It’s important to take time to rest, recharge, and reflect on your motives and goals so you can come to work energized and ready to lead on purpose. Professionally, strong relationships with your team and other stakeholders are also essential so others feel comfortable sharing their best thinking and any concerns or challenges they have.
Improving Organizational Influence
Aside from self-care and relationship building, other practices you can use to become a more influential organizational leader include:
- Getting crystal clear on your value proposition, goals, and impact. Ask others for their perspective on your strengths and how you make an impact.
- Have a clear vision for yourself (and your career), team, and organization. Leaders who have a clear vision can inspire others to take action, progress, and become more successful.
- Build the key components of trust and psychological safety, which are essential for leading on purpose, with your team members.
- Model the behavior you want to see. If you want your team members to be collaborative and transparent, you must be as well.
Improving Career Influence
If you want to become a more influential leader in other’s careers, mirror the steps in becoming an organizational leader above.
- Help your directs get crystal clear on their value proposition.
- Offer feedback and encourage them to seek it from others.
- Encourage them to build trust and psychological safety amongst their peers, employees, and senior leaders.
- Help them craft a clear vision and goals for their role. And as their manager, ensure their KPIs align.
- Mentor and encourage them along the way and help them find others to support them as well.
- Speak up for high performers when they’re not in the room. This is often known as sponsorship.
If you want to become more successful in your career, you must lead from a place of impact.
Leading on purpose is the new paradigm for leadership. If you want to make a bigger impact on your organization and help others to succeed, you must be able to influence. This means having strong levels of both organizational and career influence. To strengthen these skills, it’s important to first ensure self-care and your overall well-being. Then, build strong relationships with your team and other stakeholders by being authentic, empathetic, inclusive, and curious. Doing so will help you to become a more effective leader who can inspire action and lead on purpose.