I have been a student of leadership and mentoring emerging leaders almost every day. One of the first questions I ask people is-why do you want to be a leader? It’s a question that goes to the heart of why you wake up every morning and why you chose to make a positive difference.
The sign of a great leader is purpose and passion. If you can’t cast a compelling vision and share an inspiring purpose, how will your team know where they are going and become part of something bigger than themselves?
If you really want people to be engaged and elevate their performance, then you need to make sure they have a deep sense of purpose. Research shows that people who see the purpose in their work are more productive, work longer hours, and are more engaged.
You cannot inspire people unless you’re inspired yourself. Passion and purpose is the fuel that keeps you going every day in order to achieve great results. People could detect very quickly if you are focused and relentless in achieving your lifelong passion.
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, tells the story about his father who struggled with a series of blue-collar jobs, never able to find meaning or fulfillment in his work. Mr. Schultz, wanted to build a great company that he would serve people like his father. His father got injured on the job and the company did not have health insurance or worker’s comp to support his condition.
In his book Onward, Shultz shares what great leader do:
“Tell our associates what we need to do and why.” Our core philosophy is to take care of our associates so they will take care of the guests. A major part of caring for our people is training and teaching them how to do their job. We’re sort of like a big university with many different courses and classes.”
In 1987, Howard Schultz bought a local business in Seattle called Starbucks, he held an all-employee meeting for the first time and shared his vision for the company. He had three talking points: “1. Speak from my heart. 2. Put myself in their shoes. 3. Share the Big Dream with them.”
Schultz believed in the capacity to recreate the transcendental “blend of craftsmanship and human connection” he personally encountered with the Italian barista who brewed his first espresso in Milan in 1983. His purpose was to create a high-quality experience for employees and customer, and they will reciprocate with loyalty. Profits will follow.
Schultz found his WHY. He knows why he wakes up every day and lead. He has a calling, a purpose that drives him to build a great company like Starbucks.
His purpose was to Inspire and excite customers, vendors, and employees.
“Infusing work with purpose and meaning is a two-way street. Yes, love what you do, but your company should love you back. As a merchant, my desire has always been to inspire customers, exceed their high expectations, and establish and maintain their trust in us. As an employer, my duty has always been to also do the same for people on the other side of the counter.”
A purpose is like a magnet that attracts followers to choose the leader. The leader has a purpose that he/she is able to communicate clearly and passionately. You need to have a purpose that attracts people to join the ride. Then, work together to accomplish the purpose, and it becomes the glue that holds the team together.
So ask yourself today, why do you want to be a leader? Why do you wake up every morning and choose to lead? Creating a meaningful work environment can inspire your employees to create memorable experiences for your employees and customers alike. It’s part of our contribution to making our world a better place.