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Why It’s Time to Adopt Purposeful Leadership in Your Organization

"Leadership embraces activism; it is the outcome of a purposeful pursuit of goals."
John Baldoni

Whether you’re a part of the management team, a business owner, or a director of a nonprofit, your team looks to you for leadership. This means more than just telling people what to do or setting goals for the organization and making sure they’re met. Today’s leadership role isn’t about power, it’s about purpose. Our strategic planning company based in Minneapolis is sharing why it’s time to adopt purposeful leadership and what this means for your organization.

Shifting Away from Traditional Leadership Qualities

Before we dive too far into what purposeful leadership is, let’s look at traditional leadership roles and expectations.

Position Determines Leadership

Leaders don’t necessarily need to be the CEO, director, or manager. In fact, anyone on the team can be a tremendous leader, able to “rally the troops” so to speak to meet goals and push through obstacles. However, when the obstacles are operational, someone in a higher position may be able to affect change more easily than someone who is an excellent leader but lacks power.

Leadership and Management Are Interchangeable

While many managers are leaders, the two roles are not the same. The role of a manager is more operational, focusing on task completion or meeting deadlines, while a leadership position is focused on the big picture of meeting overall organizational goals and inspiring the team to join in meeting those goals.

Leaders’ Top Priority is the Organization

Traditionally, leaders within an organization are seen as aggressively focused on meeting the goals of the organization, often placing the need for success ahead of the needs of their staff. However, the ultra-intense, company-focused workaholic is no longer desirable or effective. When the leader sees their team as cogs in a machine, the team pushes back against this, whether it’s through decreased productivity to even leaving the organization.

Leaders’ Word Is Law

People in leadership roles within the organization can get caught up in the power they have over others and focus on how the team can serve the leader and not how the leader can serve the team and organization.

Understanding Purposeful Leadership

Now that we see the old methods of leadership, let’s look at what purposeful leadership is and how it’s different.

To put it simply, purposeful leadership means having a clear sense of purpose behind your role as a leader as well as creating a strategy and making decisions that support and enable your team to grow and meet their goals. At the same time, purposeful leadership means having a clear, compelling vision that aligns with your values in order to meet the goals of the organization. By merging these two things: empowering your team and having a value-driven strategy toward success, you can drastically affect the operations of your organization into a more positive, authentic achievement.

Principles of Purposeful Leadership

To gain a better understanding, we can look at the five principles of a successful purposeful leadership model that any organization can adopt (Joly, 2021).

Clarity in Your Purpose

Knowing what drives you and what drives your team and how those connect to your company’s purpose is key to building motivation toward meeting the goals of the organization.

Clarity in Your Role

Your role as a leader is to motivate, energize, and inspire your team, even in the most challenging times. Understand how you can connect your role in the organization, whether you’re in HR, management, or a director, and connect it to how you can lead the team.

Know Who You Serve

Regardless of your role, you are serving your front-line workers who are bringing life to the directives you have set forth, but you’re also serving colleagues, clients, and maybe even a board of directors. Purposeful leadership is about furthering the success of the organization and of your team — not yourself.

Let Your Values Guide You

Instead of solely focusing on profits, sales, or growth, it’s important to understand the values of your organization and lead with them at the forefront. As you do right by your organization’s values, your team will see that you are striving to do the right thing, even when it may be challenging, and they will respect you for it and follow suit.

Be Authentic

Traditional leadership meant not showing emotion or avoiding having deeper connections with your team. However, if you want to be a purposeful leader, authenticity and being your true, best version of yourself, is essential. When it’s appropriate, share your challenges and struggles where it pertains to the organization. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable in a way that helps your team meet their own challenges.

Adopting Purposeful Leadership in Your Organization

Now that we’ve looked at the principles behind purposeful leadership, let’s look at how it can be adopted in your organization through the Arc of Purposeful Leadership (Horan, 2020).

This shows that there are levels that identify purpose, or, more accurately, a hierarchy beginning with the Self and moving to Teams, Organization, and Society and the domains within each.


  • Character, or the values and philosophies brought to the job.
  • Competence in oneself and within the organization by training and developing the team.
  • Commitment and building engagement within the team
  • Compassion and empathizing with your team creates an air of trust


  • Team purpose
  • Empowerment
  • Skills and performance (ie: assigning the right people to the right task and ensuring the roles each member must fulfill are clearly defined)
  • Building trust between the team and the leader


  • Clear mission and strategy
  • Alignment of strengths and resources
  • Performance-driven change management
  • A supportive culture that embraces and rewards change or innovation


  • These may not be applicable to every organization:
  • Societal value proposition
  • Corporate responsibility principles and practices
  • Community engagement and philanthropy

Schedule a Consultation with Our Strategic Planning Firm to Discuss Your Shift to Purposeful Leadership

If you would like to learn how we can help you implement purposeful leadership strategies in your business or nonprofit, schedule a consultation with us today. Please send us a message on our contact page or give us a call 952-303-4594. We look forward to hearing from you.

Joly, Hubert. The Case for Purposeful Leadership. Leader to Leader. September 5, 2021. Accessed online 5/3/2022. Horan, Thomas. The Arc of Purposeful Leadershi Leader to Leader. April 17, 2020. Accessed online 5/3/2022.

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Please contact us directly for a complete assessment and plan for your individual organizational needs.

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Consultants can provide valuable service and offer an objective perspective to assist organizations and team members in a variety of areas. Woodland Strategies, a business consulting firm in Minneapolis, MN, offers an assortment of consultancy services including Strategic Planning, Marketing Strategy, Development and Fundraising Strategy, and also Leadership Coaching.

How long does a typical strategic planning process take?

This is a question we are regularly asked at Woodland Strategies. Typically, a full strategic planning process can take up to six to eight months, depending on how in-depth the organizational planning team wants to take things.Your messaging – your values, mission and vision statements – can, and should, last between eight and twelve weeks. This is really the most fundamental part of your plan. It should never be rushed.