By David McNally
Recently, my team and I team participated in a discussion with a client as we designed a leadership development program that we would be facilitating for 50 of its leaders. The audience would be a combination of experienced leaders and those newly appointed to a leadership position.
The client shared with us that, in reality, the “experienced” leaders were, in fact, experienced managers who were still learning what it meant to lead. At the same time, the new leaders were endeavoring to adjust from working with their peers to now connecting with them in a whole new way.
These issues are not uncommon and are prevalent within many organizations. Fortunately, our client is committed to creating the culture and providing the tools to enable its people to become effective leaders.
Much has been written about leadership, but what is fundamental to being a good or great leader is that you have to “want” to be a leader in the first place. A title won’t do it, no matter how prestigious. If you look over your shoulder and no one is there, you are not a leader. A leader is someone who has followers, who has people who respect, trust, and deem them as competent.
Leadership requires first and foremost the willingness to look at all aspects of oneself and to ask the all-important question: Why would someone be motivated to follow me? This entails a significant commitment to personal growth and the courage to make the changes in attitudes and behaviors that may be necessary to win the commitment of others.
This brings us to what it means to be a Purposeful Leader.
Clarity of purpose is a leader’s most powerful asset. From an organizational standpoint, the purpose of a leader is to be a champion of the company’s goals and to play his or her role in keeping the promises the company is making to its customers. In regards to people, the leader’s purpose is to create the environment and provide the encouragement that inspires his or her team to perform at its best.
The Purposeful Leader not only has a strong sense of direction, but also comes from a place of wanting to make a difference and contribute value to the world. The Purposeful Leader both delights in the accomplishments and achievements of his or her team, and also in the growth, expansion, and development of the individual.
The Purposeful Leader understands that in the world of leadership, as in all relationships, intentions are meaningless. Actions matter. If I witness you sincerely listening and being open to new ideas, I am inclined to be the same way. If I see you setting and sustaining high standards, I am motivated to raise the bar for my own performance. If I perceive that you care about my dreams and goals, I reciprocate by being committed to the goals we have as a team and a company.
Purposeful Leadership, in other words, is about what a person reflects and represents. It is about having clear values and demonstrating a commitment to living those values. It is about modeling positive attitudes and behaviors that others wish to emulate. It is about building a sense of community where people feel that their work is important, that they are important, and, as a result, they are inspired to perform at the highest levels.
Ultimately, however, here is the most compelling reason for purposeful leadership: “It is Purposeful Leaders who build inspired organizations and iconic brands.”
Elected to the Speakers Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association (NSA), David McNally is the author of the bestselling books, “Even Eagles Need a Push—Learning to Soar in a Changing World,” “The Eagle’s Secret—Success Strategies for Thriving at Work and in Life,” and “The Push—Unleashing the Power of Encouragement.” His co-authored book, “Be Your OWN Brand,” is used by many business schools to address the importance of building a strong personal brand. McNally’s books have been translated into 12 different languages and developed into corporate training programs that have been released in more than 20 countries. Abbott Laboratories, Ameriprise, Gartner Group, Merrill Lynch, Delta Air Lines, Pulte Homes, and Thrivent Financial are a few of the many organizations that have embraced McNally’s work as a key component of preparing their employees for an ever-increasing competitive and complex future. McNally also produced two inspirational films, The Power of Purpose and If I Were Brave. For more information, visit www.davidmcnally.com.