“Good leaders,” it’s been said, “create an organization with a purpose that rises above the bottom line; great leaders go a step further, finding ways to leverage the passion of each employee in order to create incentives that transcend financial rewards.”5
What does this statement mean? I think it’s saying that to be an exceptional leader, you must discover ways to link the passions of each individual on your team with the purposes of your organization. It often requires going beyond traditional methods.
Sometimes the link is easy. Trudy Novicki, for example, works for a nonprofit in Miami called Kristi House, which provides support and services for sexually abused children. She spent three decades as a prosecutor for the state attorney’s office before she realized her true passion was child advocacy.
Novicki believes many people who are unhappy in their jobs either don’t enjoy what they do or don’t see a purpose in it. At Kristi House, she feels she has both, and the rest of her team is equally devoted to their work.
“We say that it’s our mission to end the epidemic of child abuse in Miami-Dade County,” she says. “To have a goal like that gives a lot of purpose to your life.”6 If your team hauls garbage for a refuse company or makes floor mats for cars and trucks, the goals of your organization may not seem as altruistic as advocating for victims of sexual abuse. But it’s important to remind your team that there is value in any service.
Even more effective may be the practice of donating a percentage of your company’s profits to a worthy cause. Many of today’s employees seek meaning in every aspect of their lives. They’ll be much more excited about their work if they know they’re contributing toward better housing and schooling for disadvantaged families and children, toward meals for the homeless, or toward water wells for impoverished communities in Africa. It adds significance and purpose to their work that goes beyond material gain for themselves and your company.
As you get to know your team, you’ll discover more about their individual desires and goals and how they define their purpose in life. It may be based on their family values, faith, or recent experiences. Pay attention to these clues! The more you can find common ground between your organization’s goals and purposes and the individual goals purposes of each member of your team, the more effective and happy they will be on the job.
You won’t regret making purpose a priority. It will make all the difference for you and your team, enabling the “impossible” to become the achieved.
Adapted excerpt from: “Inspired People Produce Results” – Jeremy Kingsley, McGraw-Hill (2013)