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Creating purposeful leadership

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What is purposeful leadership, and how can it impact the behaviour of a workforce?

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HRD Connect spoke to Jenn Fenwick, Director, Career Transition and Onboarding Coach, Rebel Road Coaching & Onboarding Ltd to investigate how businesses can inject purposeful and effective leadership into workplaces.

“Purposeful leadership means being connected to a clear, compelling vision that is ambitious, aligned with your values, and motivates you and your team to jump out of bed in the morning,” said Jenn Fenwick, Director, Career Transition and Onboarding Coach, Rebel Road Coaching & Onboarding Ltd.

“It is about working towards something much bigger than yourself and bringing people with you on that journey.”

Leaders that execute this effective form of leadership with their employees could benefit from having a fully engaged workforce. Studies by Gallup found that employees supervised by highly engaged leadership teams are 39% more likely to be engaged themselves. An effective purposeful leader results in highly engaged employees.

Purposeful leadership can play a pivotal role in managing change in the work landscape. “Having strong leadership within a business has always been important, however, these days more so than ever,” continued Jen.

“You only have to watch the news these days to see examples of where a severe lack of leadership has caused huge issues, having a seriously negative impact on organisations and, sometimes, society as a whole.”

Innovation and change in business are happening at record speed. There are incredible opportunities for organisations to succeed coupled with complex challenges, meaning they could be one bad decision away from failing.

“Businesses need to ensure the right leaders are on board to be one of the success stories in turbulent times,” said Jenn.

Where can businesses start in creating purposeful leadership? Creating a vision is the first step.

“Having a compelling vision of where the business is going is key,” continued Jenn.

“Leaders can create an exciting picture of what the organisation is striving to achieve and what it looks like when they get there.”

“From here, it’s about ensuring that leaders and the wider employee group spend time looking at how they are connected to that vision, why their roles matter, and how they can play a part in the future success of the organisation.”

“When a leader can connect to the bigger vision, and it aligns with their values and ambitions, it is incredibly powerful.”

Once this vision is set, it then becomes imperative to bring people along with them on the leadership and transformational journey.

To create purposeful leadership, it’s helpful to understand how much the role of a leader has evolved. Effective leaders today need to find ways to continually remain transparent and engaging to benefit their employees.

“Being a leader used to be much more directive, working within a deeper hierarchy, valuing the company and profit over everything else,” continued Jenn.

“However, we are seeing that the organisations that are thriving are those that see their people as their greatest asset and value them as such.”

Businesses must shift their focus to progress and empower their workforces. Doing so can aid employees to work to the best of their abilities, which consequently encourages them to be more productive. This can additionally give organisations a strategic advantage in business and increase chances of success in the uncertain future.

“The rapid change and growth that many businesses are facing mean that leaders have to be incredibly agile and adaptable, being able to navigate complexity and ambiguity,” continued Jenn.

Ensuring your employees feel like they have a purpose will lead to lower staff turnover rates.

“It is key to not specifically focus on being reactive in day-to-day activities. Instead, create a compelling organisational vision. Purpose comes when leaders are truly connected and engaged in this and are creating robust strategies to get there,” continued Jenn.

“It is then critical that leaders engage their people; ensuring employees know that they are contributing in a meaningful way and can see the purpose of their work.”

“Rates of employee engagement, productivity, wellbeing, retention all increase when employees are bought in, and connected to the wider organisational vision and success.”

Developing skills and having a growth mindset can be heavily beneficial to improving efficient leadership. Gallup found that the key to purposeful leadership requires continuous learning and development to maximise the skills of leaders.

“One of the key traits of a developing leader that is gaining greater traction is having a growth mindset and being in a constant zone of learning,” continued Jenn.

As work changes, the role of a leader rapidly changes with it. Above all, leaders must regularly be conscious of the changes to the work landscape to ensure that they are evolving with it.

“I work with leaders as they transition into new leadership roles. Most of them work in the rapidly growing field of STEM, and they are under huge amounts of pressure to adapt and evolve,” continued Jenn.

“Ensuring leaders are prioritising and valuing time for learning, ensures that they can keep up, perform and not burn out.”

Many other traits are crucial in developing leaders. Courage, resilience, the ability to develop a compelling vision, and being people-centric are integral to an effective purposeful leader.

Additionally, leaders that are comfortable with ambiguity, and are continually improving their communication and decision-making will have a powerful influence on their people.

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