Legendary U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps, said in an ESPN documentary that he was considering suicide in 2014, but was saved in part by reading Rick Warren’s, “The Purpose Driven Life. Phelps holds the overall medal count record with 22 medals and the gold medal record with 18 gold medals.
But behind the extraordinary success, Phelps had a problem. He retired from swimming after the 2012 London Olympics with: “A lack of purpose.”
Michael Phelps closed the ESPN interview by saying, “it’s (the book) turned me into believing that there is a power greater than myself, and there is a purpose for me on this planet.” In essence t, e finding of purpose was the very thing that literally saved Michael Phelps life.
I couldn’t agree with Michael more. Purpose powers Performance and in many cases powers our life. Phelps had reached the pinnacle of success by many definitions. He achieved notoriety, financial success, popularity, and so much more. Yet one ingredient was missing: Purpose. Swimming had consumed his life from childhood and when he retired from swimming he realized he was missing purpose in his life.
As a speaker, author and leadership expert, I am constantly evaluating my branding, and my effectiveness in delivering a message and content that speaks to current issues that many leaders and organizations including government departments face. But I have discovered before we can move forward with delivering the solutions to current problems, we need to take a step back to rebuild the foundation called: Purpose.
I want to speak to something deeper within you than your leadership title, deeper than your financial bottom line, deeper than how you manage employees, and even deeper than your organizational and personal goals. I want to talk with you about Purpose-Driven Leadership.
I believe what is missing from this current generation of leaders, this current generation of politicians, and this current generation of the millennial workforce, is understanding purpose and how important knowing the purpose of work, life and how we fit into our organization and our world really is. I also believe that Leaders who haven’t defined the purpose of their life and their work may have difficulty articulating purpose, vision and direction for the organization, it’s managers and employees.
Purpose is the natural follow of our gifts and talents as we serve those we touch. That could be our co-workers, our customers, our citizens, or our family members. My philosophy on leadership is that we lead out of our “lives” not our position. If our life lacks purpose and meaning, then we are ineffective at leading other people into defining theirs.
If you want to know whether you are serving in your leadership role effectively and with purpose, start by asking yourself this universal question, “What is the purpose of my work? If you want to take it a step further and really test your working culture for purpose, go visit the desk of a few managers and a few employees and simply ask them the same question, “What is the purpose of your work?”
You might be surprised to learn that there is no universal answer. That means your culture needs to focus on a vision that creates a central purpose that is woven throughout the organization and that every single employee can find meaning in and understand how their personal work ties into that purpose. Here is why:
Purpose Produces Energy – When employees can articulate clearly the purpose of their work and how that work ties into the whole purpose of the organization, that will produce energy within an employee or manager. Now the work they do is not just a set of meaningless tasks but have greater value. The value that people see in their work and contribution is what drives their energy levels. This is important to know: Energy is “emotion in motion.” That means when people can feel a strong sense of purpose in their life and work it creates a positive emotion within them which in turn propels them to high levels of energy at work.
Leaders who haven’t defined the purpose of their life and their work may have difficulty articulating purpose, vision and direction.
Purpose Powers Performance – There needs to be a culture shift in government and organizations across the country. We have been measuring Performance by “Managing it” (performance management), when what we should be doing is “Developing it” (performance development). This is a mindset and culture shift that I am teaching and introducing to organizations as I travel and speak, train, develop leaders and organizations around the country. The days of performance management are over. We can no longer try to manage performance, we need to start the process of developing greater levels of performance within our organization from the top down.
Purpose is what powers performance development. When the vision and purpose is clear and employees can be coached by managers into understanding their work and individual purpose, that is what will power higher levels of performance. We then shift the culture from managing to now developing which has an immediate impact on resources and the bottom line. We don’t need more resources in our government offices and departments. We don’t need more resources in our organizations, we simply need to become more RESOURCEFUL.
Purpose earns Commitment – When employee and managers understand how important their purpose and contributions are to an organization it creates a higher level of commitment. Purpose creates a committed workforce that takes their work and their role very seriously. They don’t have the “it’s not my job mentality” but rather the purpose drives them to ask the question of how can I better contribute my gifts and talent to add more value to the organization. They become committed not to you as a leader, but to the shared purpose! That’s powerful.
Purpose is what transforms performance from being “driven” to being “inspired” We can no longer follow the old command and control style of leadership where we “drive” people to perform better at work. Another word for drive, is to force. Would you enjoy someone else driving your car and driving you around? No, you want control of your car, how it’s driven and ultimately the destination. The same is true in the work environment. People don’t want to be managed, they want to be led. People don’t want you to drive as a leader, they want to be inspired by you as a leader and that inspiration comes from them understanding the purpose of their work and how important their contributions are to the whole purpose and vision of the organization.
Purpose creates a sense of care. Employees and managers will start to care about making a difference together and develop a “WE vs. ME mentality.” This eliminates self-agendas, arrogance in leaders, and self-seeking ambition. The “we” mentality says we are all in this together, sink or swim. No one is successful unless we are all successful. If you want to create purpose and a whole new culture of commitment and unity, start using the language of purpose and you will see tremendous and sustainable results in both your performance and your bottom line.
The beauty of this is I have aligned my brand, my talent, my energy, and my experience in helping you create this new culture of purpose within your government department and organization. You don’t have to do it alone. Your leaders don’t have to do it alone.
My mission and purpose are to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems by infusing the organization with a new shared sense of purpose. I can help.
I close this article with these powerful considerations in the form of questions:
What is the purpose of your leadership?
What is the purpose of your work?
What is the purpose of your life?
How many days do you have left to live?
How many days can you afford to waste?
It’s time for a change. It’s time to work from a position of purpose. It’s time to become a Purpose-Driven Leader!
Your managers and employees are not tired. They are simply uninspired.
Are you ready to solve your most pressing problems?
Are you ready to adopt the Purpose-Driven Leadership principles within your organization?
Let’s start the conversation. Call 734-756-9114 or email me directly.