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Why is purpose-driven leadership worth your investment?

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Julia van Zon
Written on the 24 January 2023

In this blog we dive into what exactly is purpose-driven leadership and how leaders can truly benefit from discovering their why.

As Mark Twain aptly stated, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. The same could be said for leaders – what is your why? And have you discovered it?

There is chance that most leaders reading this are yet to discover their purpose. Harvard Business Review believes that only 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their individual purpose. So, as leaders how can we develop our purpose and then garner our people to be inspired and driven by it.

What is purpose-driven leadership?

Purpose-driven leadership is about aligning your leadership to the vision and values of the organisation. It is aspirational and pushes past sales targets or organisational goals and into the realm of passion and determination.

People who lead with purpose look at how they do their job and why they do it – they investigate what makes them passionate about their career at an overarching level and what strengths they bring to the company at a more granular level.

Purpose-driven leaders draw on moments that had a significant impact on them and let the lessons learned in those moments inform how they navigate challenges in a constantly changing environment.

These leaders are inspirational, impactful and align the individual, team and organisational values to make the world a better place.

Why do we need a why?

McKinsey & Company state that “nearly two-thirds of US-based employees we surveyed said that COVID-19 has caused them to reflect on their purpose in life. And nearly half said that they are reconsidering the kind of work they do because of the pandemic. Millennials were three times more likely than others to say that they were reevaluating work”.

That’s some significant statistics.

A Harvard Business Review-EY survey discovered 53% of executives who said their company has a strong sense of purpose said their organisation is successful with innovation and transformation efforts, compared with 31% of those trying to articulate a sense of purpose and 19% of the companies who have not thought about it at all.

Another Harvard Business Review survey also revealed that over a three-year period, most purpose-driven businesses (58%) experienced growth of at least 10%, compared to just 42% with a less clear purpose.

The intersection between employees needing purpose in their work and the clear benefits that this purpose provides is becoming clearer. Nothing like a pandemic to really zero in on why we need a why.

Why purpose pays?

Purpose-driven leadership can bring organisational benefits in an increasingly complex and dynamic environment. Harnessing purpose builds organisational resilience and gives people a reason to work that moves past financial reward and recognition.

It is human nature to want to be a part of something bigger than yourself so harnessing purpose can bring a diverse group of people together to create meaningful impacts.

Purpose also provides strategic clarity and boundaries that help organisations keep their people focused on the big picture. At the Breast Cancer Network Australia, the charity’s “purpose statement is frequently used at a board level to help determine whether or not a project is actually worth of an investment.” This type of clear identification of purpose and how it can be used to clearly guide strategic business decisions demonstrates perfectly how having a defined purpose at top-level management can and should inform how a business operates and why.

Purpose can also help people find common ground and join together to achieve the organisation’s mission. Plus, from external perspective, customers often choose purpose-driven organisations because they are more trustworthy and are more likely to be doing good in our world.

If you’re looking for people who lead with purpose, Meritos can help. We specialise in connecting talented individuals with top organisations, and we know that purpose is a key driver for many leaders. Whether you’re looking to make a difference in the world or simply want to find a company that shares your values, we can help you find the right fit. With our extensive network and personalised approach, we’ll work with you to find the perfect match.

Picture of Julia van Zon

Julia van Zon

Julia van Zon is the Marketing and Communications Manager of Meritos, an executive search and recruitment business partnering with purpose-driven organisations. If you're interested in connecting with Julia, you contact her at [email protected]
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Questions to ask to help you understand a candidate:

1. Describe your ideal working environment.

2. What do you enjoy about your current workplace?

3. How does a manager get the best out of you?

4. Describe the best team that you’ve ever worked in.

The reasons why I ask these questions:

1. Reason

2. Reason

3. Reason

4. Reason

Insights by Julia van Zon