The Three-Legged Stool, the core of my coaching model, ensures clarity, self-confidence, and success in realizing dreams and fulfilling goals. The Three-Legged Stool asks us to identify our core values, claim our innate strengths and articulate our purpose or our calling. There are very few opportunities that facilitate this process — becoming clear in all three of these areas.
As you walk with me through this series on Leadership Purpose, I invite you to pay attention to your clarity around these three fundamental pieces of who you are as a leader and how it shows up for you in how you lead.
This is part 2 in the 5-part series on Leadership Purpose by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.It’s not what you do, but how you show up to do your job. It’s your WHY. Click To Tweet
How can you, as a leader, provide others with a sense of meaning and purpose when you may be struggling with clarity around your own sense of meaning, fulfillment and impact?
“We’ve found that fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose,” confirm Nick Craig and Scott A. Snook in “From Purpose to Impact,” published in the May 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review. “Even fewer can distill their purpose into a concrete statement.”
In my work with executives I ask them to tell me what gives their lives meaning and purpose. Many leaders simply parrot their organization’s mission instead of what provides them meaning, fulfillment and purpose personally. I hear answers like…
Increasing shareholder value
Becoming the best in product innovation
Delivering worldwide more ‘X’ than our competitors
When probing deeper, leaders acknowledge a sense of meaninglessness, work-related stress and often-dysfunctional relationships. When they try to come up with answers about purpose, they typically fall back on generic and nebulous catchphrases:
Help others excel
Empower my people
These are so broad that it is hard to translate purpose into action.
“Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us, unplayed.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Your leadership purpose is who you are and what makes you distinctive,” note Craig and Snook. “Whether you’re an entrepreneur at a start-up or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, your purpose is your brand, what you’re driven to achieve, the magic that makes you tick.”
It’s not what you do, but how you show up to do your job. It’s your why — the Strengths and passion you bring to the table, no matter where you are seated. While you may express your purpose in different ways and contexts, it’s what everyone close to you recognizes and experiences as uniquely you.
At its core, your purpose as a leader springs from the essence of who you are. Purpose is not a list of the education, experience, and skills you’ve gathered in life. It’s not some jargon-filled slogan.
Purpose is personal and it resonates with your heart and soul. It’s your why. It’s grounded in your core values and Strengths. It’s not aspirational, cause-based or who you think you should be. It’s who you cannot help being.