Finding your purpose: what motivates a leader to succeed?
How can leaders maintain themselves to stay motivated?
We’ve all felt it - the sudden lack of interest, the waning enthusiasm. The feeling that comes with not feeling like you’re in control of your own work anymore. When this happens, it’s important to find meaning in your work.
For leaders and their employees, it’s difficult to be passionate about something without it having an overarching purpose or meaning. Otherwise, you may end up getting discouraged and feel like you are wasting your time.
Indeed, motivation - the driving force behind high-performing teams - can often be cultivated through finding and understanding one’s purpose, and understanding how it aligns with the organisation’s purpose.
This gives true meaning and value to the contribution that individuals and the team make.
What motivates leaders? Making work meaningful for yourself and your team
To be a motivated leader, you must find your own purpose and identify how it matches your organisation’s purpose.
If you want people to be engaged and feel like their work is meaningful, it’s important that your team is aligned with your organisation’s purpose.
While it seems simple, there are challenges in aligning your own and your team’s purpose with the organisation’s purpose. Some employees may not understand or know what their company’s current objectives are or why they exist at all; this leads them to be confused about how they should act in each situation.
Therefore, a fundamental responsibility of leadership is to articulate the organisation’s purpose and engage your team with it.
A sense of purpose creates a better future for the organization and its talent.
What motivates individuals to become successful leaders?
Purposeful leadership starts with a focus on why we do what we do, and not what we do, to make sure employees know what they are striving for. It is about creating a sense of meaning and significance that is greater than just earning a salary or just advancing your career.
Purposeful leaders find ways to align the work that their team is doing with the organisation’s purpose. They will go out of the way to hire the right people who share organisational values, cultivate an inclusive culture, and create opportunities for all employees to contribute and develop skills.
When you engage your team with the organisation’s purpose, they will demonstrate four critical behaviours:
- They show up for work every day with a sense of excitement and optimism
- They want to stay with the organisation
- They are engaged with their work and are more innovative in their approach to it
- They want to help the organisation to make a positive impact on the world
- They take ownership and accept accountability – they start to lead
In short, leading with purpose is the key to unlocking the potential of an organisation.
Purpose creates resilience through change
The world is in a constant state of flux, and organisations must develop a culture of change to remain relevant and competitive. Success requires a clear vision and understanding of why change will benefit the organisation. To support this understanding, leaders need to create a sense of purpose for their teams, for purpose now matters more than ever.
When employees feel that their work has meaning and that they’re contributing to something larger than themselves, it becomes easier to cope with change and setbacks. Without a sense of purpose, it can be hard to create resilience in the face of change.
A strong sense of purpose helps a leader to focus on the right things in service of the organisation’s purpose, and to share this with their teams as they prioritise tasks to support the change required.
A leader is only as good as their team
As Clive Wilson discusses in his book ‘Designing the Purposeful Organization: How to Inspire Business Performance Beyond Boundaries’, it is important for leaders to know how to align their team with the organisation’s purpose, to move beyond the limits of transactional performance (“Pay me x and I will deliver y”) towards purpose-focused performance that releases innovation, talent, and engagement. You see, a leader will only ever be as good as their team.
The hallmark of a great leader is someone who, in addition to their technical expertise, can develop and sustain the morale of their team. This means that they should be able to motivate employees and retain talent, as well as provide an environment that fosters innovation and performance. They create teams that work hard even when they are not present in person or when they are not overseeing daily tasks. The key to all this is purpose.
At Primeast, we work with organisations to help identify their guiding and compelling purpose, and then to undertake the process to articulate and engage people with this. This leads to an understanding of the values required which inform the behaviours needed to be able to act in service of the purpose.
To read more about how we use PrimeFocus™ when partnering with organisations as strategic and organisational consultants, read more here and listen to Clive Wilson discussing the importance of purpose within an organisation.
Read more about the inspiring work Clive Wilson undertook with the Bedford College Group helping to define a compelling purpose to build engagement and motivation. The work is being followed with a programme of culture-based skills and mindset development workshops to help build alignment and embed desired behaviours as part of the culture transformation programme.