Leading Through Uncertainty (Part II – Purpose) – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: April 6, 2019

The next few Weekend Reflections for Leaders are focused on the topic of Leading Through Uncertainty. I had the privilege in March to speak to a group of executives in San Francisco on the topic of Leading Through Uncertainty. There was a tremendous amount of interest in the topic by those who attended, and I wanted to share components of my talk over the next several Weekend Reflections for Leaders.

In Part I (Reality Check link) last week, we discussed the importance of facing the reality of today’s marketplace that continues to grow in complexity, intensity, and uncertainty.

Today’s topic is on the importance of Purpose.

When describing purpose in practical terms, it is answering the big question of why do we exist as a business? What do we do and why does it matter? Sometimes purpose may be described as the strategic intent or even the mission of the business.

I most recently led an early stage cancer diagnostics company (Armune BioScience which we sold to Exact Sciences (EXAS) in Dec 2017) and our purpose was clear, Improve the Detection of Cancer, and it mattered because detecting cancer early means more lives will be saved.

An inspiring purpose becomes both a collective rallying cry for the team and a personal calling for the individuals building the business. An inspiring purpose can be developed across any industry or endeavor from curing cancer, to providing a warm meal to someone in need, to educating the next generation, to building safe and affordable housing, to providing a simple clean room to a weary traveler on the road, and the list could go on and on. (What do we do and Why does it matter)

As senior executives and the top talent on their teams look to lead effectively through the uncertainty of today’s marketplace, ensuring they develop, decide, and communicate the clarity of an inspiring purpose is critical to the long-term success of the business. The clarity of purpose around what we do and why does it matter has numerous benefits. Here are just a few:

  1. Purpose helps leaders and teams keep an eye on the long-term direction of their efforts. When we can refocus on the long-term direction, we maintain the emotional strength to effectively handle near-term obstacles and moments of uncertainty in the business cycle.
  2. Purpose can have a palpable rallying cry that helps leaders and teams muster the physical strength necessary to get back into the fight when we get knocked down by a sudden event that can literally feel like getting the wind knocked out of us and the business.
  3. Purpose provides leaders and teams focus to channel the energy necessary to succeed in today’s demanding environment. Without a clear purpose, we wander aimlessly during moments of uncertainty in the business cycle and waste a great deal of energy inefficiently.

As senior executives and the top talent on their teams work hard to drive growth in a challenging and often uncertain future, it is critical that they lead with the clarity of purpose for the business in ordered to inspire their teams to deliver on today’s goals and prepare for a brighter future.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say? 

Here are a few resources to HELP YOU:

  1. Download FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com
  2. Contact me. Email: david@harvesttimepartners.com (M) 269-370-9275
  3. Check out my latest book, Looking Back-What I Learned When I Left a Great Company ( https://www.harvesttimepartners.com/at-work/looking-back-book/) for helpful insights on leadership, building a great business, and winning the war on top talent.

David Esposito