What’s Your Reason for Existing?
At a recent BoardSource Leadership Forum, entitled "Ignigniting Leadership for Power, Purpose and Impact", BoardSource’s president, Anne Wallestad shared her thoughts on the four elements that she believed ignite the leadership potential in an organization. They include:
- Starting with Purpose (the focus of this blog)
- Defining Your Values and Living into Them
- Cultivating resilience through flexibility
- Building Power and Influence
In Wallestad's reflecions on starting with purpose, she focuses on the importance of inspiring a shared vision. She encouraged leaders to consider why their organizations even exist. This question differs greatly from our sectors usual approach to planning for the future. Wallestad stated, "there is a reason that your organization exists. What is it? I’m not talking about your mission statement or your strategic plan; they are a reflection of your current focus and efforts. I’m talking about—in the simplest terms—what is your organization’s reason for being? What problem, issue, or challenge do you exist to address?" This approach is in full alignment with the concept of “Inspiring a Shared Vision”, one of the core practices of The Leadership Challenge.
I recently had the opportunity to work with one of the most respected organizations in our community. Following a merger, the new leadership asked me to come in to facilitate a two-day Leadership Challenge workshop. We spent a significant time on the specifics of “Inspiring a Shared Vision”. During this discussion, the group began to really think about the “why” of their newly defined organization. They did not refer to the mission statement on the wall. They did not refer to a strategic plan. Instead, they thought BIG. They envisioned the organization that they could be in the next three to five years and the true impact their organization could have in the community. They created inspiring metaphors for their future that painted a new picture of their group. And what I watched during this courageous conversation was a palpable change in their energy. As the new leadership team thought about their role in creating this new future, they engaged differently. It reinforced everything that I have seen in the power of The Leadership Challenge model.
In Wallstead’s speech to BoardSource, she highlighted two other critical points:
· By defining your core purpose, you’re able to get very clear on what’s most important in terms of your work—what’s absolutely central in terms of what you seek to accomplish, as well as what’s not.
· Defining your core purpose, and doing so with the full engagement and participation of your board, unlocks new clarity, meaning, and forward momentum, and is a critical first step in unleashing the full leadership potential of your organization.
Kouzes and Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge, descibe “Inspiring a Shared Vision” as leaders passionately believing that they can make a difference. They have stated that leaders “envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become. Through their magnetism and quiet persuasion, leaders enlist others in their dreams. They breathe life into their visions and get people to see exciting possibilities for the future”
Doing this type of work requires new ways of thinking. Certified as a facilitator and coach for The Leadership Challenge, I can help your organization explore its purpose and learn how to Inspire A Shared Vision.
Contact Think Good to learn more.