Avoiding accidental leadership: the importance of leading with purpose

Monday, November 16, 2015 - 17:34

Guest post by Alison Vidotto

We hear so much about purpose and its role in leadership. Rightly so, purpose is very important. We know that accidental leaders often fail to engage their team.

Leadership should always be purposeful, that’s how we will develop and grow ourselves and others. It is ultimately how we will achieve the results we are after.

So what is purposeful leadership? It is a committed leadership style that reaches far beyond the position, it encompasses the development of people at every level of an organization.

Leadership begins with the self, it’s about you, how purposeful you are and how well you translate that to your followers. Having a strong desire to be a great leader is a good starting point, you need to really want to lead. That desire will drive your purpose, being in a leadership position won’t.

Being a purposeful leader will translate to strong followers who trust and respect you. They will share the goals and vision of the organization and work with you to achieve them.

So how do you become a purposeful leader? The following points are worth considering:

1.    Are you clear on your purpose?

Without doubt, being sure of your purpose and having the ability to communicate it well to others is the very essence of leadership. To reach goals both large and small a good leader has to be able to garner the support and motivation of employees.

2.    Do you want to make a difference?

‘The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.’ This great quote by Ralph Nader reinforces the important role of a leader to create an environment that empowers their followers to develop their own leadership. Bringing about great changes not only to the bottom line, but also to the people you are leading will develop an amazing, high performing team. This sort of mindset really makes a difference!

3.    Are you leading by example?

When you listen carefully, respect others and their ideas the rest of the team will emulate your behaviour. A purposeful leader sets a tone and standard of excellence that inspires others to follow.

4.    Do you base your decisions on the overall strategy and purpose of the organization?

It’s easy to make off the cuff decisions to meet the demands of the situation at hand but that’s not purposeful.  Evaluating each situation and basing decisions on the strategic purpose of the organization is going to reduce errors and take you where you are trying to go. It is also going to set a great example for your team.

5.    Are you communicating openly and honestly?

To share meaning and purpose with your team you have to be honest. They don’t need things to be sugar coated, even obstacles or setbacks that are shared openly help them to feel invested and included in the process. Keeping the purpose at the front of conversations increases resilience to deal with challenges and find meaning. 

6.    Be Impeccable with Your Word

While it’s important to be optimistic, open and communicative, it’s also important to be honest and realistic with your communication. If you are going to make a promise, be sure that you are going to be able to keep it. Purposeful leaders keep their word and their team members know it. They rely on you following through.  If you don’t follow through, own it and talk to your team.

Purposeful leadership includes an awareness of how your behaviour and decisions impact desired outcomes both short and long term. Leadership isn’t easy, particularly purposeful leadership, it can be tough. But it can be done and the rewards are worth the effort.

Alison Vidotto is an award winning author, professional speaker, CEO of Vidotto Group, leadership trainer and Founder and Managing Director of the Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam.