Your organization has a purpose problem.

Here’s what to do about it.


Published on: September 2023

Written by: Ravi Bhusate

In the fast-paced world of 2023, your employees’ attention spans rival that of a TikTok video.

With extreme weather events and economic uncertainty becoming daily companions, organizations face an uphill battle in maintaining employee engagement. Your employees find themselves at their desks questioning – why am I here? What is my purpose? Does this organization truly care about my present and future? 

This disillusionment deepens when employees fail to see themselves represented in the organization’s leadership ranks. This is a problem – when diversity is lacking, leadership inadvertently creates a hierarchy that benefits those who resemble them, leaving many feeling like there’s no path to success. 

Similarly, as employees struggle to stay engaged, feeling unseen and underrepresented, it becomes impossible for leaders to dismantle siloes and move the needle forward. Inspiring cross-functional collaboration or brokering transformation becomes inconceivable when employees don’t even feel connected to their place of work.  

Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone. This is a leadership challenge that requires organizations to tap into purposeful leadership. Purposeful leadership is the key to enabling your leaders to inspire long-term organizational sustainability, create diversity and safety, and pave the way forward.  

But what is purposeful leadership? 

Purposeful leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all model or concept; it’s a cultural shift rooted in leaders’ strengths, values and vision. It aligns leaders’ actions with the organization’s soul, strategy, and brand. 

Here are the three essential elements of successful, purposefully led organizations: 

1. Value-driven decision-making

Tapping into purposeful leadership allows leaders to be more agile and continue making decisions amid rapidly changing conditions. Rather than waiting to have all the facts and data, purposeful leaders rely on their values to make the right call and illuminate the path forward. For example:

  • Environmental responsibility: A CEO of a major corporation decides to invest in sustainable and eco-friendly practices, even if it initially costs more, because they believe in the long-term value of protecting the environment. 
  • Employee well-being: A leader champions flexible work hours and work-life balance, valuing employee well-being over immediate profits. 
  • Ethical response: During crises, leaders prioritize employee and stakeholder safety, even if it entails short-term financial setbacks.

2. Stakeholder orientation

Purposeful leaders are guided by a strong moral compass and advocate for betterment, change and progress. They remain focused on the needs of employees, customers, shareholders, and society with every decision. At times, value-based decisions may seem at odds with profitability and efficiency, but purposeful leaders stay the course. They recognize that the decision that is best for society, employees, and customers is better for shareholders in the long-term. For example:  

  • Workplace safety: A manufacturing company invests in safety measures, putting employees’ health first. 
  • Quality products: An organization focuses on high-quality offerings, believing customer satisfaction leads to long-term success. 
  • Supply chain transparency: An organization maintains transparency in its supply chain, aligning with socially-conscious consumers. 

3. Long-term sustainability 

Value-based decision making helps purposeful leaders to generate long-term sustainability. They avoid quick fixes and guide others to see a vision for the future that has a much higher return decades into the future. For example:  

  • Renewable energy investments: A utility company heavily invests in renewable energy, ensuring a sustainable and profitable future. 
  • Training and skill building: A company prioritizes continuous employee training, seeing it as essential for long-term competitiveness. 
  • Innovation: A technology company allocates resources to innovation and long-term technological advancement, securing its position as a market leader. 

With the desire to get the most from their leaders, inspire future-forward thinking, and retain and engage employees, many organizations try to make the shift towards purposeful leadership by leaning on safe, conventional approaches. However, true transformation requires more than just a few individual leaders to buy in. Across the business, all leaders need to be introspective, deeply connected to their role and purpose, and aligned with the organization’s mission.  

Making this shift requires a significant intervention that touches leaders at multiple levels, encourages exploration, and fuels authentic growth. While this scale of intervention may seem daunting, the reward is worth the work. Adoption of purposeful leadership at scale is what will enable your organization to transform lives and leave an indelible mark on the future. Don’t wait for the next wave of change – now is the time to unlock the potential of purposeful leadership and transform your organization for the better. 


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