Leadership Strategies – write your own personal purpose and values

Leadership Strategies

Your own purpose and values

This is the second post in the series that takes a little deeper dive into some of the strategies that underpin each of “The 7 Leadership Domains”.

By the way, if you haven’t downloaded “the 7 Leadership Domains” essay, you can grab your copy by clicking here.

In this post, I’m examining the Self Leadership Domain further. The strategy I’ve chosen to explore this time is “Write your personal purpose and values”.
Here’s why this is so important for you and your team…

Being On-Purpose!

The highest order of motivation is to ‘be on purpose’. On purpose is a sense that one is making a meaningful and worthwhile contribution to others. Each person is different in what they judge to be meaningful and worthwhile, the unifying concept is ‘contribution to others’.

Think about this. When you ask a person why they operate the business they do or have the job they do, they often come down to one thing. After they get past ‘to earn money’, they’ll usually say “to help …. with ….”. I’ve noticed this phenomenon with hundreds and hundreds of business owners and managers across two decades. At the core, most people want to make a positive difference to others. People want to contribute. In fact, significant employee disengagement stems from the absence of a sense of purpose at work.

When a person perceives that their work is making a meaningful difference, they feel on purpose and tremendously motivated. If they are dialled in to a purpose and core values, they will also be more self-directing and make better decisions.

Self Transcendence 

Alfred Maslow is famous for his Hierarchy of Needs model of motivation. He suggested that Self Actualisation (being as good as you could be) was the highest order of motivation. Many years later and close to his death, Maslow changed his belief on this. He came to believe that Self Transcendence (contributing to something bigger than self) was the highest order of motivation.

You and everyone in your team will benefit from becoming very clear on ‘the positive difference that your organisation strives to make’. I have an exercise called “Tributes” that I use with participants in workshops to help them tease out clear articulation of purpose. It is quite an exercise in self-discovery. On a side note, a work unit can develop a purpose and values of their own. The quid pro quo is that these need to align to the overall organisation’s direction. This can be extremely empowering for the members of the work unit.
Once someone is clear on their purpose, it is very easy to decipher the values that support that purpose. In fact, I advocate that people distil purpose and values before they look to vision and strategy.

Strong motivation occurs when there is a clear match between a person’s personal purpose and values and that of the organisation. This does not need to be a 100% overlap, even a partial overlap can enable an individual to feel truly connected to the organisation. Put this on top of a positive working environment and you have a recipe for success!

Is there a downside?

I have seen the odd employee leave an organisation when they get clear on their own purpose and values only to realise that there is a miss-match with the organisation. Though this didn’t happen often, in all cases the Owner or Manager concluded that it was for the best. They could understand that the person who left was never going to perform at their best due to the miss-alignment. This only strengthened the Owner/Manager’s resolve to adjust their recruitment strategy to better identify those who could happily align with the organisation’s purpose and values.

This is more a case of short-term pain for long term gain than a downside.

What to do from here?

I’ve only scratched the surface of this great topic. If I could encourage you to do one thing, it is to get the conversation started among your work unit. It is a more philosophical conversation than most task-focused work discussions. Create a safe environment. A good conversation starter is Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote “We must become the change that we seek in the world”. You can also open up a discussion around “does work help us to achieve our own personal purpose in some way – a lot / a little?”

It will take a number of conversations for people to draw full value from what this has to offer. Those who are ready will begin to identify the overlap between work and personal purpose and become more motivated as a result.

It is a different conversation to have. Sometimes it can be difficult to facilitate. However, once the conversation has momentum, it is a tremendously empowering and motivating conversation for most people.

Good luck!

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