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Purposeful Leadership: What Differentiates Better Leaders?

June 20, 2017 Mark Hannum

As some of you know, the Linkage team recently concluded a two-year research study to uncover what differentiates great leaders from everyone else—and on June 6, Matt Norquist and I had the opportunity to share some of the findings in a webinar on Purposeful Leadership.

This session was the culmination of a journey that started when we assembled a team of our consultants to sort fact from fiction, and tested our approach to leadership development for real-world relevance—using data from our work with nearly a million leaders over the last 30 years.

We combined the quantitative evidence with the experiential and anecdotal data, stories and experiences. We also enlisted the help of over 100 clients and academic experts to help us unpack leadership, with the goal of discovering what separates great leaders from everyone else.

The journey to distilling our data was reinvigorating and exciting. Ultimately, we found that leaders who commit to leading purposefully and focus on 5 commitments have a greater impact on their teams, organizations and communities—and drive greater competitive differentiation, engagement, revenue, and profits.

5 Purposeful Leadership Commitments

At the highest level, a leader is an individual who effectively builds relationships with others and is adept at forming clusters of leaders around a specific goal. Purposeful leaders make and work to continuously keep these 5 commitments to themselves and their followers:

  • They inspire and bring hope for the future around a path forward
  • They engage individuals and teams to bring their best selves forward for the advancement of the organization
  • They innovate in order to further collective goals and create competitive advantage
  • They achieve greater outcomes by structuring and enabling the organization to meet their objectives
  • They become leaders who continually develop themselves and their convictions

Is purposeful leadership the exception or the rule?

Armed with this information, we decided to take our research one step further. We were curious about how leaders stack up when it comes to leading purposefully. So, we conducted a nationwide survey of 1,000 working Americans. Ultimately, the data led us to conclude that leading with purpose is the exception rather than the rule. Inspiring, purposeful leaders are rare. For a closer look at the data and conclusions, view the webinar recording.

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