We are in the month of March. This month means a lot to Ghana. In a couple of days, Ghana will be celebrating its Independence Anniversary. I believe it means a lot to you too as a leader and a citizen of this land. As leaders, we play a great role in the realization of Independence for our people. I will encourage you to make this month a month of Purpose.
Last Saturday, I held a session with a group of CEOs on the CEO Accelerator Program to discuss Leadership Purpose. Without purpose and purposeful leadership, we spend our days in a quagmire being battered by the events of the day and on some occasions, we comfort ourselves with the shallow victories we achieve. Several research studies points to the positive impact of purposeful leadership on financial performance of organisations. Research by Development Dimensions International Inc. indicates that “purposeful organisations outperform their market by 42%”
On the call, we discussed Leadership Purpose as a:
Compass – providing direction on the journey;
Lighthouse – a beacon of hope and a resource, helps individuals to find their way when they get lost;
Anchor – what keeps you grounded in spite of circumstances and situations, and your reason for being; and
Star – the aspiration and future that the leader sees and people yearn for.
As you go through the month of March, I will encourage you to give yourself the meaningful gift of Mission Clarity. This is one of the tenets of the CEO Accelerator Program. I believe every enterprise leader must achieve Mission Clarity in every moment.
You must make your purpose plain and share it with your stakeholders. That is the beginning of being purposeful as a leader. Sharing your inspired purpose will enable you to rally support to achieve the big aspirations you have set for your organisation. This is because there are stakeholders who are waiting to be stirred on by a purpose they also share but need a leader to articulate it for them. That’s what Nkrumah, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Yaa Asantewa, Mandela, Rosa Parks, etc. did for us.
“For this end Africa needs a new type of citizen, a dedicated, modest, honest and informed man. A man who submerges self in service to the nation and mankind. A new type of man whose humility is his strength and whose integrity is his greatness” ― Kwame Nkrumah,
This month, do not continue on your daily grind without a clearly articulated leadership purpose. Attempt to answer the question of leadership purpose properly before Independence Day. Every leader has a purpose that needs to be identified and acted upon. When I speak of leadership purpose, I am not referring to the exercise of “finding one’s life purpose”. This exercise tends to cripple many because one is encouraged to find that one path or thing that makes all life complete. Also, leadership purpose is not being in a position to advance your career or to achieve a financial target.
I believe leadership purpose is what you are inspired to achieve and the value you bring to your stakeholders given your context. And this may change as your context changes. You can use the following reflection prompts as a guide. You define your leadership purpose when you answer these two questions.
—Given your context what leadership is required; what specific outcome are needed?
—What enduring value will you deliver to your stakeholders through your leadership?
As you craft your purpose avoid vague, flowery language and overused phrases as used in this example: “I will strive to exceed our expectations by building a team that will be attractive to the market and also empowered to step out their comfort zones, challenging the status quo.” This lacks clarity as several phrases are open to different interpretations. Choose words and phrases that reflect your own story and context. Use your own language to define your agenda. Below is an example of a leadership purpose statement I supported a CEO to craft:
I am at peace with the work I do. It utilizes my skills. My ambition is to build a….(redacted)
Currently, I need to make sure there is support for the work each other does, there is open communication, and we all clearly understand the new strategy.
This purpose is simple and yet powerful. It reflects the challenges of the moment, the unique context of the leader and his team, and what needs to be achieved. As an enterprise leader, your purpose and the purpose of the organisation you lead means more for the prosperity of our communities and our ultimate independence. Hence any effort your put into this process of clarifying your leadership purpose advances our communal prosperity.
I trust that you will make time to reflect and write your leadership purpose before Independence day. You will achieve a lot more when you align your daily activities to your purpose. You will find more energy and fulfilment as you lead purposefully.
Hopefully, you will share your leadership purpose with your stakeholders on Independence Day. Above all, let us choose to lead purposefully each day by aligning our daily decisions with our values and aspirations.
“To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.” – Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary General
Happy Independence Day!
Robert Bennin, is a trusted advisor and an executive coach to Boards, CEOs, senior-level executives in several African countries. Robert’s global perspective and intimate understanding of the changes and trends taking place across several industries, in emerging markets have made him an invaluable resource to leaders and organizations as they seek to resolve the challenge of building enduring and highly competitive enterprises.
He has also led the design and delivery of over 750 executive learning and coaching programs in strategy, leadership, organizational transformation and board effectiveness. As the Convener of the CEO Accelerator Program,(ceoacceleratorprogram.org) Robert facilitates a peer learning and coaching program for elite business leaders across Africa.
He is also the Founder and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory, a leading strategy consulting, leadership development and an executive coaching firm. Robert is a Leadership Subject Matter Expert and Leadership Coach on the Leadership MBA Program at the African Leadership University in Rwanda.
He can be reached at [email protected]