If you haven’t seen an article, listened to a talk or read an email that extols the ways that purpose is working for businesses like yours, you’re living under a rock. Type “business purpose” into Google, you’ll get over one billion search results (in 1.02 seconds).
As a leader, this may have you questioning whether you should pay attention to what seems like the latest business buzzword du jour. And perhaps you should ignore purpose (lowercase p). But if you lead (or aspire to lead) a conscious company trying to create positive social change, you need to pay attention to social impact Purpose (with a capital P).
The difference is much more than a capital letter. Social impact Purpose starts with the intention to improve some aspect of the world, followed by an unwavering commitmentto fulfill that intention. (Get our free resource to learn more about what social impact Purpose is…and isn’t). Such fierce focus requires strong leaders: individuals with a unique approach that sets them apart from their peers.
So what are they doing differently that aspiring Purposeful leaders need to do too?
Eight characteristics of Purposeful leaders
They focus on the difference their company makes…NOT the actions their company takes
Purposeful leaders keep their eyes on the prize: the unique positive impact their company can make on people and the planet. Instead of putting first what the company does, Purposeful leaders put the company’s WHY above all else, and use that WHY to determine what actions to take.
They use Purpose as a guide…NOT a short-term strategy
Purposeful leaders use Purpose as a compass, checking all actions against their true North question: will this help further our Purpose? They know that Purpose is a long-term commitment, not something to trot out when convenient or solely to bolster brand image.
They bake Purpose in…they don’t just add it on
Purpose should radiate from the inside out. These leaders build their companies around Purpose, even if it means changing internal structures, hiring practices or relationships with partners. For them, Purpose is never something to throw on as an afterthought.
They focus on the future…NOT sustaining the present
Maintaining the status quo is a fine place to start for social responsibility, but Purposeful leaders know that to truly make a difference they must go above and beyond “doing no harm” to creating positive change that endures.
They are FOR something…NOT against something
There are plenty of problems that need fixing, and plenty of people who stand against those problems. In contrast, Purposeful leaders advocate for improvement and innovation. Their vision is for taking an active role in making things better rather than simply taking an opposing stand.
They see Purpose as an invitation…NOT a marketing tactic
Leaders of Purposeful companies know that their company can’t come close to fulfilling its Purpose alone. So, among other things, they make it easier for consumers to join them in taking action based on shared values. And they invite them to join the company in making behavior change, voting with their dollars, advocating, evangelizing and more. These leaders know that Purpose is measured in the collective difference made, not the company’s dollars collected.
They are inclusive with their Purpose…NOT exclusive
Purposeful leaders also know that “it takes a village,” so, beyond consumers, they include employees, suppliers and vendors, and even competitors as partners in Purpose. Purposeful leaders always look for ways to collaborate and work with others to increase impact.
They are courageous…NOT looking for instant gratification
It takes guts to be different! In the face of skepticism and doubt, Purposeful leaders guide their companies with integrity and resolve. Progress takes time, so Purposeful leaders must persevere and be patient. They know that Purpose is a marathon, not a sprint.