(RE)discovering Your Purpose as a Leader
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to kick off a new group for our, Art of Leading, Coaching, & Influencing Others™ Program.
It is an advanced learning experience that reeducates leaders on the core principles of what it means to lead others, while consistently building their coaching & influencing skills. It happens over a 7-month time frame and utilizes four different learning environments.
During one of our first sessions, one of the leaders shared that she had lost her way as a leader. Meaning, she had forgotten her purpose and the reason she had become a leader in the first place. She woke up to the realization that she was acting more like a glorified, but bored and disengaged individual contributor instead of leader.
Going through life without a purpose can be self-defeating. It causes people to wander aimlessly from one job or relationship to the next, it can allow someone to wallow in a dead-end place for years because their life or their work has no meaning.
Losing your sense of purpose as a leader, can be even more devastating, because your lack of engagement can infect the people you lead, the very same people you are supposed to be leading, developing, and helping them get out’ve their own way so they can do their best work.
So How Does a Leader Lose Their Way?
Some leaders are never clear as to why they became a leader in the first place. They may have wanted the promotion, the status, the money, and the title so they accepted the position without fully understanding the responsibility it requires or possessing the skills to lead others. Some leaders get worn down after years of leading the charge, they get tired or bored and slowly wander off-course, it doesn’t happen immediately, it happens eventually. Some folks never ever wanted to be a leader and when you ask them why they did, they say … “I just sort’ve fell into it!”
In all 3 of those situations what typically unfolds is that the leader becomes so focused on themselves and their own needs that they forget that being a leader means you have to be other-centered. We have all worked for self-centered leaders and it’s typically a bad experience that produces poor results.
So What if You’re a Little Lost?
- Step 1 – Ask yourself why you decided to be a leader in the first place?
- Step 2 – If after completing #1 you realize that you fell into it or that you wanted the title and the paycheck but you really struggle with the people aspect of your job … QUIT! Seriously you will not be happy, effective, or successful and you will end up doing much more harm than good.
- Step 3 – If on the other hand you realize that for some reason or another you have gotten out of alignment or lost your way, I highly suggest that you adapt the following definition of a leader – Leaders are people who influence others to do or to be their best. Write it down, put it where you see it consistently throughout the so you can remind yourself of what you’re supposed to be doing.
- Step 4 – Then go to amazon and order this book StrengthsFinders 2.0 and take the assessment in the back of the book.
- Step 5 – When you get your results for your top 5 Strengths, ask yourself on a scale of 1-10 (1 – low and 10 – high) “How well am I leading/working from each one of my strengths?
- Step 6 – Pick your lowest score and ask yourself, “What would I need to do to make my score a +1, +2, +3?” Write it down.
- Step 7 – Do those 3 things for the next 30 days and watch what unfolds in your work and your life!
- Step 8 – After 30 days share the book with a colleague or even better … one of the people whom you lead!
Some of the most influential leaders in history have transformed the world, moved mountains, and toppled monarchies. People followed them because they trusted them. They were crystal clear about their purpose and they wanted to make life better for those around them. They weren’t lost … they helped others find their way
You don’t need to have direct reports to influence others … and if you do … consider it a privilege and your purpose!