What a tumultuous year 2023 has been, both personally and professionally!
It is one of those years that you want to remember but also forget at the same time. The highs and lows of 2023 have provided me with clarity on many aspects of life, but one thing stands out above the rest, and that is purpose.
In 2024, I challenge you to discover your purpose and not just settle for your passions. Remember, passions can be fleeting, so focus on your purpose instead.
In my personal and professional development circles, the mantra "follow your passion" has guided many individuals seeking fulfillment in their careers. However, a more fine and impactful approach for leaders at all levels is to shift the focus from passion to purpose.
I recently finished reading a book called “The Purpose Factor” written by Brian and Gabrielle Bosche. One of my favorite parts of the book is that the authors share the dictionary definition of Passion, which is a “barely controllable emotion.” They go on in the book to replace “Passion” with “barely controllable emotion,” which makes for interesting reading.
In the following, I will explore the limitations of the "follow your passion” or “follow your barely controllable emotion” advice and make the case for embracing a purpose-driven leadership approach.
The Pitfalls of Passion-Driven Leadership
Passion is a fickle emotion that can be influenced by various factors such as current trends, circumstances, or personal preferences. What one may feel passionate about today may not be the same tomorrow. Leaders who rely solely on passion or barely controllable emotions may find themselves constantly changing direction, leading to inconsistency and instability in their team.
Passion is often considered crucial for success, but it's never enough. An individual's skills and strengths are equally important. In fact, pursuing a passion without considering one's aptitude may lead to frustration and poor performance. Leaders who prioritize passion or barely controllable emotions over competence may unknowingly harm their team's success. Therefore, balancing passion and skills (Brian and Gabby call these your acquired skills) is essential to achieving optimal results.
Achieving success without purpose can also lead to burnout. Passion-driven leaders may neglect work-life balance, ultimately affecting their decision-making and effectiveness in a leadership role.
The Power of Purpose-Driven Leadership
Passion and purpose are two different things. While passion can be intense, such as a barely controllable emotion, and may change over time, one's purpose is enduring and provides a stable foundation upon which leaders can build their careers (it's what a leader is built for). By identifying and aligning with a more profound sense of purpose, leaders can create a consistent vision that guides their decisions and actions over the long term. This stability is crucial for fostering trust and confidence within a team.
Purpose is often derived from core values (see our Values Discover card deck). Leaders who recognize and follow their purpose are likelier to make decisions that correspond to their values. This alignment leads to personal satisfaction and creates a positive organizational culture that attracts and retains talented individuals with similar values.
Leaders who are driven by purpose are more adept at handling obstacles and setbacks. When faced with difficult situations, having a clear sense of purpose serves as a guide, offering direction and inspiration to persist. This ability to bounce back is crucial for leaders who encounter challenges and for motivating their team to do the same.
Purpose can unite teams and inspire them. Leaders who communicate a compelling purpose can foster a sense of shared mission, creating a collaborative and energized work environment.
Transitioning to Purpose-Driven Leadership
Leaders should become deeply self-aware (See Chapter 2 of Where Leadership Begins) of their core values, strengths, and what truly matters to them. This self-awareness process can unveil a more profound sense of purpose beyond transient passions.
Effective leaders align their personal purpose with their organization's broader purpose and values. This alignment creates a powerful synergy that enhances both individual and organizational success.
Leaders must articulate their purpose in a way that resonates with their team. Clear and compelling communication of purpose fosters a shared understanding and commitment among team members.
Purpose-driven leaders prioritize long-term goals over short-term gains. This strategic approach ensures sustained success and resilience in the face of challenges.
Real-Life Examples of Purpose-Driven Leadership
Healthcare: Dr. Paul Farmer - Partners In Health (PIH)
Dr. Paul Farmer is a physician and anthropologist. He co-founded Partners In Health (PIH), which provides healthcare to impoverished communities globally.
Dr. Farmer is a leader who is driven by a strong sense of purpose. He believes healthcare is a basic human right and is committed to promoting social justice and equality. His organization, PIH, strives to provide high-quality healthcare to those in need, regardless of their financial resources.
Response to Epidemics: PIH has played a vital role in responding to epidemics, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Dr. Farmer's leadership has been instrumental in guiding the organization to provide medical care and address the systemic issues contributing to the spread of diseases.
Community Empowerment: PIH involves local communities and empowers them to take charge of their health and well-being rather than just delivering healthcare.
Advocacy for Health Equity: Dr. Farmer strongly supports health equity worldwide. He provides direct healthcare, addresses the underlying causes of health disparities, advocates for policy changes, and challenges systemic issues that contribute to inequality.
Non-Profit Business: Blake Mycoskie - TOMS
Blake Mycoskie is the visionary behind TOMS, a company that operates with a unique social mission. For every pair of shoes that are sold by the company, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need. This innovative business model is built on the principle of "One for One."
Mycoskie's leadership is focused on improving lives through business. The One for One model demonstrates that profit and purpose can coexist.
Addressing a Specific Need: TOMS has identified a particular requirement - the absence of shoes in underprivileged communities - and has made it the central focus of its mission. This clear purpose enables the company to significantly and directly influence the lives of those who require it most.
Expansion of Impact: Over time, TOMS expanded its product offerings to eyewear and coffee, each with a corresponding charitable component. This diversification demonstrates a purpose-driven approach that adapts to different societal needs while maintaining a commitment to improving lives.
Inspiring Consumer Engagement: TOMS' purpose resonates with consumers who want their purchases to contribute to the greater good. This engagement is a testament to the power of purpose-driven leadership in creating a positive brand image and building customer loyalty.
Key Takeaways in Healthcare and Non-Profit Businesses:
Authenticity is Key: Purpose-driven healthcare and non-profit leaders must align their organizational missions with personal values. This authenticity builds trust and enhances stakeholder impact. (See Chapter 3 in Where Leadership Begins and "The Feeling of Authenticity" blog post)
Holistic Problem Solving: Purpose-driven leaders must address immediate needs and systemic issues for sustained impact in healthcare and non-profit sectors.
Empowerment and Collaboration: Leaders should work collaboratively with the communities they serve to ensure contextually relevant and sustainable solutions.
Purpose-driven leaders inspire healthcare and non-profit organizations, showcasing how a strong sense of purpose can bring about positive change.
Their influence goes beyond mere financial gains, underscoring that success can also be measured by the transformative effect on individuals and communities.
So, in 2024…
Leaders at all levels should consider embracing purpose-driven leadership as an enduring approach instead of following their “barely controllable emotions.”
Purpose provides a stable foundation, aligns with values, fosters resilience, and inspires teams to achieve collective success.
By transitioning from passion to purpose, leaders contribute to their personal fulfillment and the creation of thriving and purposeful organizations. By focusing on purpose, leaders can navigate the complexities of leadership with a steadfast commitment that goes beyond fleeting passions or barely controllable emotions.
See you later 2023! Thanks for the lessons!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Find your purpose and pick up a bundle for 2024 for you and your team!