The Purposeful Leader

By Bernard Lee|09-02-2022 | 1 Min Read
Source: Image by confused_me from Pixabay
Purpose And Leadership

The purposeful leader is a leader with purpose and is intentionally living out his/her purpose. Purposeful leaders are confident and secure in who they are; competent with a servant-heart in what they do; acting as a catalyst to spur others into future possibilities.

For a leader to be confident and secure, he / she must recognise their call as a leader. The call to influence and impact the lives of people comes from their purpose and not their position. Purposeful leaders understand the person makes the position, not vice-versa. Mother Teresa is no stranger to us. Her desire to serve others has made a difference in the lives of people across the globe. She did not have a position, a title nor accolades, but she had a very clear purpose and passion to serve others. When she left this world, Presidents and paupers alike mourned her loss. Former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar says, "She is the United Nations. She is at peace in the world.” Purposeful leaders are driven by purpose, not performance. 

Purposeful leaders have mastery in what they do. They spend years honing their skills to be competent in what they do. They do it not for self-benefit, but to serve others. “We become a leader the day we decide to help people grow, not numbers”, says Simon Sinek. I think of world-renowned leadership guru - John Maxwell. John has been involved in adding value to people his entire life. In my own journey, I have been privileged to hear him in person and read his books / materials. Another example is Ken Blanchard. From his iconic classic, The One Minute Manager, to business school lectures, Ken has lived a life devoted to developing leaders. Why do people like John Maxwell and Ken Blanchard still make themselves available (today) to coach, develop and train leaders when they could easily have retired and sat back to enjoy life? I believe the reason they are still actively writing, speaking and investing in people is because they have a servant-heart. Their mastery generates passion. They have committed themselves to a lifetime of developing leaders. 

A purposeful leader acts as a catalyst to spur others on. They ignite the spark and provide the thrust to launch others towards greatness. They inspire others to dream and create a safe space for them to explore their aspirations. One of my favourite global hotel chains is the Marriott Hotels and Resorts. They offer a wide range of hotels and resorts around the world catering to different budgets. Apart from its hotel offerings, the stories of people who work at Marriott fascinate me.

Pam Wilby was a nurse, then worked in an airline, before starting in the hotel industry as a receptionist. She studied and worked her way through to become the first female General Manager in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (Image taken from Hotelier Middle East )

Craig Smith (Group President and Managing Director) describes Pam as a true trailblazer and a beacon for the company and industry - “she creates a family environment, catapulting not just her own career, but thousands of others.” I have read many stories about how people are given opportunities to thrive and grow their career and there is always one thing in common - someone (organisation) acted as a catalyst and nudged them towards that opportunity that eventually launched their careers.

How do we become a purposeful leader? I believe we (people and organisations) need to do 3 key things - engage the core, equip the skills, and empower the spirit. 

1. Engage the core

Engaging the core is about intentionally working on strengthening those muscles that hold the body together. By doing so, we enable the other parts of our muscles to move efficiently and effectively. Every athlete understands that a strong core allows swift and smooth movement of your arms and legs.

Similarly, every organisation must strengthen its core. Only by strengthening it can the people operate and deliver the expected results. The core could be the likes of purpose, values and vision; organisational culture, performance and development initiatives; and knowledge, skills and abilities for someone to be successful in the organisation. Regardless of what it is, leaders need to intentionally engage it and make it strong. If your core is weak, don’t expect optimal performance.

2. Equip the skills

Organisations must intentionally focus their efforts on equipping and upskilling its people. I don’t mean “training”. Far too often, “training” is nice to have - when I have the time and budget to do so, I’ll do it. People and organisations must rid themselves of this lackadaisical attitude and equip themselves with the relevant skills that will enable them to perform the role today. 

Equipping is about being prepared for something. The preparation is a process and not an event. Hence, “training” cannot be a one-off activity we do when we have the time and budget. It is a carefully planned and crafted journey that makes the person ready for the role and task ahead. At Invigorate we call this, developing leaders today, for tomorrow. We work with clients to intentionally build leaders today, preparing them for the future. 

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3. Empower the spirit

I’ve met leaders who say they empower others, only to find the opposite when I speak to those they believe they have empowered. Why is this so? Often when they say they empower others, it is because they want them (others) to do something for them. I understand the need for organisational alignment to provide context. That aside, leaders must learn to empower by releasing people to pursue their aspirations and dreams - and sometimes, that may mean doing it outside of your organisation.

As leaders, we create opportunities for them. We open doors. We journey together with them. If that journey is within the organisation, that’s fantastic! If it’s not, then we need to be gracious to release them and ask ourselves, why can’t we create that opportunity for them here! Empowering others is not about people doing our bidding, but launching people into opportunities for them to live their purpose. In short, we need to treat people as people, and not a resource.


Purposeful leaders are driven by purpose, not performance. It’s not about what I (people) have to do, but rather “WOW, I get to do this!”. There is a world of difference between the two statements. The latter sparks excitement and releases energy that is beyond what is asked for. 

Some questions for us to reflect on:

Are you a secure and confident leader? Do you feel threatened by the success of the people you lead or do you celebrate with them? 

Are you equipped to lead today for tomorrow? How can you use your knowledge, skills and abilities to serve others? 

Are you launching others into their opportunities or are you using them as a tool and resource to do your own bidding?

Regardless of where we’re at in our leadership journey, we can be that purposeful leader. Engage the core to build security and confidence for yourself and the people you lead. Have a servant-heart as you invest time and resources into equipping the skills required to prepare yourselves for tomorrow. Catapult others into opportunities and spur them on to live their purpose. 

Be The Purposeful Leader!

How can you find your leadership purpose? Watch this video below to learn more! We hope it encourages you!

Do you desire to accelerate your growth? Do you want to further develop your purpose and vision? Look no further. Necole is a state-of-the-art learning platform that curates personalised learning just for you. **SPECIAL OFFER - Use this code ABETTERME and get a 5% discount on your subscription to Necole. To find out more about Necole or to subscribe, click here

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Bernard is the Founder of Invigorate Consulting, a firm seeking to connect people and organisations to their purpose. He has over 20 years of management consulting and corporate experience with global organisations. He is also a seasoned facilitator. He enjoys travelling and is excited about the second half of life.
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