Purpose: The missing ingredient

Reading through news articles, blogs, updates and surveys on weekly (sometimes daily) basis, there is rarely an article that, 3 months on, still sticks in my head. In September last year the Chartered Institute of People Development (CIPD) published a survey that reported that only 33% of leaders in the UK perceived the quality of leadership in their organisation as, “High”.

I read this and I don’t understand – this could just be because I am 24 and perhaps a little naïve, but regardless, I would like to ask 2 questions.

Why is the perception of UK leadership so poor? And, if it is a true assessment of the ability of todays’ organisations to lead, then what will tomorrow look like?

Given the number of leadership programmes that are available to staff across sectors, I’d like to take a punt and suggest that it isn’t the availability of training and development that is missing from the leadership equation. I would like to suggest that it is something more systemic…

I look back at my own experience leading a National non-for-profit organisation in Australia, I reflect on what I thought was commonplace. Identifying leadership skills that aligned with the vague direction I had drawn for myself. Searching for the roles to give me that experience. Leaving the organisation after 3 years of managing volunteers from a team of 6 people to 13 teams across a continent.

I was working in an environment that was so aligned with my purpose it was parallel. I was driven to succeed by an internal motor, rather than an external expectation that I must achieve performance metrics. I worked alongside others who had their own internal motors purring, I had respect for their work and trust that they were developing themselves and those they served – while simultaneously achieving organisational objectives.

Without the luxury of a leadership development programme to compliment our development, we worked with a fundamental vision that everyone shared, had ownership of and worked towards – seeding leadership qualities throughout our business. If this doesn’t sound like your workplace, then I would like to pose 3 questions to you.

  • What is your life’s purpose?
  • What is the purpose of the organisation you work for?
  • Where is the overlap?

If there is only marginal overlap and you perhaps have a less than desirable opinion of the leadership of your organisation, then maybe a purpose-check is in order?

I truly believe that organisations have the opportunity to create a fundamental shared purpose amongst all employees and that this is the crux to the sustainability of businesses now and into the future. My opinion is that what is most often missing is the individual and our knowledge of what exactly it is we live for.

Do you believe that purpose is what is missing from the leadership of organisations in the UK?

Add your perspective by posting a comment below.

The youngest member of the Future Considerations team, Peter manages the marketing and communications for the consultancy. Click here to find out more about Peter and contact him for further information around his experience or to connect with anyone in Future Considerations.

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