Leadership theories have evolved over time, with new ones being introduced and old ones being discredited or built upon everyday. More recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the influence that purpose has in leadership. Apparently—it’s a lot.

Fast Company wrote an article about uncovering your purpose as a leader, encouraging readers to formulate a purpose statement after doing much self-evaluation. Readers are posed with questions about themselves as a leader, including where they want to go, what they want to do, and how they want to do it. While purpose statements are an invaluable tool to help leaders identify their intentions, one key component is missing from the proposed recipe:

The why.

Why you do the job you do isn’t synonymous with your company’s mission statement. Your why is not about profit, salary, recognition, or power, for all are effects of the work that you do, not the reason you do it. 

Your why is your purpose, cause, and belief. It is specific to you, and only you can resonate with it. Identifying your leadership purpose opens doors for you to become inspired and inspire others. Doors will be opened and barriers will be removed once you’re able to identify your why

Working Without a Purpose

If you don’t have a strong sense of your leadership purpose, then you’re in the same boat as over 80% of leaders. As for the other 20% of leaders who may feel strongly about their purpose, an even smaller amount of them are able to translate their purpose into a solidified statement, according to Harvard Business Review

Working without a clear purpose can be dangerous to not only your career, but to your abilities as a leader. The reason for identifying a purpose is to harness it and translated it into action. Without a sense of purpose, such action cannot take place, at least not in the capacity that it should. As a result, leaders end up limiting their personal and professional goals and fail to accomplish the ones they do set.

Working With a Purpose

Identifying your purpose is the first step, albeit not a simple one, to unleashing a slew of personal and professional leadership capabilities. However, knowing and understanding your purpose will do only limited good until you have the courage to transform it into action. The process of these two steps, according to HBR, “is the single most important developmental task you can undertake as a leader.”

Our individual purpose is deeply rooted in our belief system and values, which creates a personal, ethical, and systematic compass by which to live and lead by. If we act according to our compass and the beliefs and behaviors it reflects, decision-making becomes more efficient since now we have defined a criteria. As a domino effect, your team will experience clearer communication and sense of direction. 

Knowing yourself and living your purpose reflects a high level of self-awareness, which is not only one of the five domains of emotional intelligence, but also an essential quality of a leader. Self-awareness allows you to set boundaries with yourself and with others where needed, as well as tear down barriers that need not exist. Your strong sense of self encourages an environment for team members to be clear on your intentions and connected to your purpose as a leader and team at large. 

Perhaps most importantly, working with a purpose bridges gaps between your personal and professional life. Your personal values and beliefs are being knowingly manifested in your working life. By identifying, living, and sharing your why, your work and personal lives collide and have a greater meaning, and those in which you lead are more likely to identify with your purpose and show up for it. 

How to Identify Your Purpose

Your purpose boils down to the essence of who you are. But unless you’ve been conditioned your whole life to know yourself on a deeper level and uncover who you are at your very core, pinpointing your purpose will likely not come to you by the end of this article.

Your purpose is your identity. You are the sum of everything you are now, have been in the past, and aspire to be in the future. What about you has been consistent throughout your life? Which passions, strengths, and values have withstood? What gets you up in the morning and keeps you awake at night? What makes you tick? Consider challenges and hardships as well as moments of joy and bliss. 

Grapple with these reflective questions. Take some time to recognize themes and relate them to your goals and beliefs as a leader. Even discuss your reflections with peers, as they might see things you’re unable to or bring a new layer to the reflection process. 

For further help developing your leadership purpose and living it fully, Knowted is here to help. With our Optimize Personal and Professional Performance program, leaders will learn to do just that! Sign up here or email us at info@knowted.co to get in touch!

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