What Purpose-Driven Leaders Do Differently

It’s not work that erodes our spirit, it’s meaningless work

High impact leaders go beyond the fundamentals (like setting clear goals and giving positive feedback), they up-level everyone around them, by infusing a wave of inspiration and commitment.

In the last two decades, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most passionate, purpose-driven leaders in the world. These top-performing leaders share four core habits:

They build belief.

History is filled with examples of small nimble teams who beat out formidable opponents. Smaller teams often win when they’re more emotionally invested. They believe in a cause bigger than themselves, and because of that, they exhibit more grit, focus, and tenacity.

Belief drives behavior, and behavior drives results. A leader’s ability to create shared belief for a team can mean the difference between failure and perseverance.

They are performance-driven.

If you’re serious about making an impact on the world, you ought to measure yourself.

Top-performing leaders are performance-driven not just because they want to be promoted, make more money, or fuel their own ego (though, those things are all nice). Top leaders strive for even more, they push for performance because they know their team, their customers, and in some cases, the world is depending on their impact. They’re relentless in their pursuit of delivering in big bold ways. They hold their teams to high standards because they know it matters.

They make the mundane meaningful.

Most jobs have some tedious elements. Top-performing purpose-driven leaders help their teams to see those tasks and activities in the context of a larger impact. For example, if your company manufactures concrete equipment. And, someone on the team has to fill out paperwork every Friday about how much equipment was produced and where it was sent.

A purpose-driven leader provides the steadfast reminder: Concrete holds up so much of our infrastructure. People’s homes, businesses, and lives need a strong foundation. When we are diligent about our production data, it enables us to help even more people, even faster. They connect the dots between the task and the larger purpose brings meaning to the (seemingly) mundane.

They value mistakes.

If you’re trying to have a big impact on the world, you’re going to make some mistakes. It comes with the territory. A team who makes no mistakes is likely not innovating, pushing, or growing.

Purpose-driven leaders recognize this. They celebrate the ideas that didn’t quite pan out because it’s a sign that their team is trying; actively engaged in the pursuit.

They don’t tolerate repeated errors, and they certainly don’t reward low performance. They DO accept the level of risk and errors that comes with growth. They help their teams recover, learn, and build the resilience in them to try again with the same gusto (and a little more experience) the second time around.

The data tells us: Purpose-driven organizations outperform their competitors, and purpose-driven leaders have higher rates of engagement and retention in their teams.

The good news is, you can start down the path at any time. In our experience, even simply talking about a bigger purpose, or sharing a story about how your company makes a difference will give you an immediate win.

To get a bit more personal, when you start to use the above for habits you do more than create high performance for your team, you also create a more rewarding work experience for yourself. Purpose is a self-fulfilling loop. When you inspire the people around you, you, as a leader, experience the same in return.