Indeed, some scholars have suggested that communicating purpose is the most central of all leader behaviors, because it infuses work with meaning and direction.
ANDREW CARTON, CHAD MURPHY, & JONATHAN CLARK
A (Blurry) Vision of the Future: How Leader Rhetoric about Ultimate Goals Influences Performance
The alarm has sounded and people are responding.
Employees and leaders are craving greater meaning and purpose, not just at work, but in their lives.
For example, a 2021 McKinsey article reports that nearly two-thirds of US-based employees said that the pandemic has caused them to reflect on their purpose in life. The authors say (emphasis added), "Employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives. Employers need to help meet this need, or be prepared to lose talent to companies that will."
If you have a retention problem, consider the stark possibility that the lack of meaning and purpose may be a strong contributor.
If your employee engagement is not where you want it to be, a need for greater meaning and purpose may be part of the reason why. And you can say that about productivity, revenue and financials, and wellbeing, as well.
The research is clear.
Forbes reports, that employee disengagement is at a 10-year high. And Gallup reports that one of the engagement elements that declined the most was a connection to the mission or purpose of the company. If leaders don't do something, matters are only going to get worse.
And, according to Great Place to Work and a host of others, those organizations that do not prioritize leading with meaning and purpose do in fact have lower engagement, productivity, innovation, revenue and financials, wellbeing, and increased or continued retention problems.
On the flip side of that, purpose is prioritized by the 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2022, as highlighted by Great Place to Work, and those companies outperform those who do not on all of the above metrics.
What may be the most important metric of all is that leaders who lead with meaning and purpose are simply more effective.
What may be the most important metric of all is that leaders who lead with meaning and purpose
Unfortunately, many leaders and executives are seeing themselves, their teams, and their organization through the lens of the unrealistic optimism bias. It's happening to to other leaders, but not to me. It's happening in other organizations, but not to us.
It’s important for leaders to start with the assumption that their employees are disengaged and that they could lead with greater meaning and purpose.
Employees value purpose & meaningful work.
How much? A BetterUp Labs report, Meaning and Purpose at Work, states that 9 out of 10 career professionals--that's 90%—told researchers that they would sacrifice 23 percent of their future earnings—an average of $21,000 a year—for "work that is always meaningful." That's about as much as most people pay for their mortgage or rent in a year!
Almost 50 years ago, neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, founded logotherapy with the premise that our primary motivational force is to find meaning or purpose in life.
Both Abraham Maslow and Stephen Covey point out that having a strong devotion to a life purpose or calling is—without exception—a quality of self-actualized and highly effective people, respectively. And more recently, Marty Seligman, the father of positive psychology, lists in his book, Flourish, the five core elements of flourishing. Purpose is one of them.
Purpose is a core element of human flourishing.
Clarity is a superpower!
How can a leader lead and live by their core values and principles if they're not even clear about what they actually are? How can a leader leverage and communicate about their meaning and purpose effectively? How does a leader help others find greater meaning and purpose at work? How does a leader set meaningful developmental goals in order to amplify their leadership effectiveness?
What does something like that even look like?
Developing, clarifying, leading, and living by a leadership philosophy is the answer. It is the foundation of all other leadership competencies and KSAs.
As I pointed out last week, Kouzes and Posner report that those leaders who rated themselves among the top 20% of leadership philosophy clarity scored 110% higher on pride in their organization, commitment to their organization’s success, their willingness to work hard, and their overall effectiveness than those who are not clear about their leadership philosophy.
Very few organizations provide their leaders with a step-by-step guide or process to teach leaders how to lead with greater meaning & purpose—to develop and lead by a leadership philosophy connected to the organization's mission, values, strategy, and goals.
Leading With Meaning & Purpose
Leading With Meaning & Purpose is a leadership development experience and course coming out next month. It will walk you through a step-by-step process that guides you through developing your own leadership philosophy. More importantly, it provides you with the strategies and tools to activate and leverage it so that you can amplify your own leadership effectiveness.
Meaning and purpose starts with you.
To watch a video about the course and preview the course syllabus, click here: Leading With Meaning & Purpose
Pre-enrollment and launch discounts will be available soon.
Have an amazing journey today!
Alan Mikolaj is a coach and leadership development consultant with 15+ years of experience. He is passionate about helping leaders transform their leadership, their teams, and their organizations. Impactful, professional approach driven by a passion for meaning and purpose, a growth mindset, and a commitment to excellence and service in order to drive change and results.
Alan maintains the ethics and standards of behavior established by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), including the standards regarding confidentiality. You can learn more about them on the ICF website.
Transformational change starts with a conversation!
Schedule your free, one-hour session by clicking here: Discovery Conversation with Alan
Or call or email me: Contact Page
Alan Mikolaj is a a professional, experienced, positive, and passionate speaker, leadership and organizational development consultant, change agent, author, and coach. He holds his Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Sam Houston State University. He is a certified graduate coach from Coaching Out of the Box and holds his ACC and membership with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
Free Discovery Conversation!
Impactful change starts with a conversation! Schedule your free, one-hour session by clicking here: Discovery Conversation with Alan
Or call or email: Contact Page
In his third book, A Travel Guide to Leadership, Alan offers you simple, fundamental, and powerful lessons that have the power to transform you, your relationships, and your career.