From hero to helper: Why purposeful leadership drives today’s business

Purposeful leadership blog image. Shows a man in a suit helping others climb a mountain

The traditional image of a leader – the infallible hero who swoops in with all the answers – is fading fast. Today’s complex, fast-paced world demands a different kind of leadership: purposeful leadership.

This new approach focuses on aligning your values and passions with your company’s goals. It’s about inspiring your team, not just dictating orders. Here’s why purposeful leadership is crucial for business success in 2024:

Relevance in a changing world

Rigid, top-down leadership struggles to adapt in today’s dynamic environment. Decentralised decision-making and a focus on shared purpose empower teams to navigate complex challenges. Imagine a company facing a rapidly evolving market. A purposeful leader would foster open communication and encourage diverse perspectives to collectively find innovative solutions. This collaborative approach stands in stark contrast to the old hero model, where a single leader is expected to have all the answers.

Beyond profit 

Employees today crave meaning in their work. A leader who champions a clear and inspiring purpose attracts and retains top talent. Millennials and Gen-Z, in particular, are purpose-driven generations who seek to contribute to something bigger than themselves. A purposeful leader understands this yearning and creates a work environment where employees feel their contributions are not just to the bottom line, but to a cause they believe in. This can lead to increased engagement, productivity, and loyalty.

Authentic connection

Forget the facade of strength. People connect with genuine leaders who show empathy and vulnerability. In the past, leaders were often expected to maintain a stoic demeanour, projecting an air of unwavering authority. Purposeful leadership breaks down this barrier. By acknowledging their own struggles and emotions, leaders create a space for open communication and build trust with their teams. Imagine a leader admitting they don’t have all the answers but are committed to working together with the team to find solutions. This vulnerability fosters a sense of teamwork and psychological safety, where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas and admitting mistakes.

Fuelling innovation

Today’s jobs require creativity. A purposeful leader fosters an environment where everyone’s ideas are valued, sparking innovation. The complex challenges of today’s business landscape demand creative solutions. Purposeful leaders create an environment that embraces experimentation and celebrates new ideas, regardless of who they come from. This can be achieved by implementing brainstorming sessions, encouraging calculated risks, and rewarding out-of-the-box thinking.

The hero’s downfall

Unchecked power isolates leaders. Purposeful leaders prioritise serving others, fostering trust and collaboration. The hero model of leadership can lead to a sense of isolation and a culture of fear. Leaders who see themselves as all-knowing heroes are less likely to delegate tasks or consider alternative perspectives. Purposeful leaders, however, understand that their strength lies in empowering others. They share credit for successes, delegate effectively, and actively seek out diverse viewpoints. This fosters a collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and contributes to the team’s success.

The 5 pillars of purposeful leadership

So, how do you become a purposeful leader? Here are the five key attributes, or “Be’s,” that Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy, identifies as essential for purposeful leadership:

  1. Be Clear About Your Purpose: Understand your own purpose, the purpose of those you lead, and how it connects to the company’s mission. A purposeful leader starts with self-reflection. They identify their own values and passions, and then translate those into a guiding purpose that informs their leadership decisions. They don’t stop there, though. They actively seek to understand the purpose of the people they lead, helping them connect their individual goals to the company’s mission. This collective sense of purpose binds the team together and fuels their motivation.
  2. Be Clear About Your Role: Your role is to create energy and inspire hope, even in challenging times. Purposeful leaders go beyond simply giving orders. They act as energizers, motivators, and bearers of hope, especially during difficult times. They inspire their teams to see the bigger picture and believe in the possibility of success.
  3. Be Clear About Whom You Serve: Leaders serve everyone – frontline employees, colleagues, the board, and even customers encountered outside the company. Purposeful leadership rejects the notion that leaders are above everyone else. Instead, they see themselves as servants, working for the greater good of the organisation and the people within it. This means considering the needs of all stakeholders, from frontline employees to customers and even those in the community.
  4. Be Driven by Values: Live by your values, promote them actively, and make them the foundation of your business. A purposeful leader’s values are not just words on a poster. They are deeply ingrained principles that guide every decision and action. They actively promote these values throughout the organisation, ensuring they become the bedrock of the company culture.
  5. Be Authentic: Be yourself, your true self, your whole self. Purposeful leadership embraces authenticity. Leaders who are genuine and relatable connect with their teams on a deeper level. This doesn’t mean oversharing, but rather being comfortable showing your human side – vulnerabilities, struggles, and all. By doing so, you create a space for open communication and build trust with your team.

The call to action

The way we lead has a profound impact on the people around us and the success of our businesses. If you’re ready to embrace purposeful leadership, consider these questions:

  • Have you decided what kind of leader you want to be?
  • How would you describe your purpose?
  • How would you describe your role?
  • What are you doing to create an environment where others can thrive?
  • Who are you serving?
  • What values define you?
  • Are you doing your best to be authentic and approachable?

By reflecting on these questions and incorporating the five “Be’s” of purposeful leadership, you can become the leader you’re meant to be and inspire those around you. Remember, the most impactful leaders aren’t heroes – they’re helpers.

if you want to see how some of the best business leaders do what they do best (lead), head on over to the Wotter Future Youtube channel! And we’ve always got more blogs if you’re not done reading yet!


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