Purpose-driven Leadership and reframing the challenge

By Kelly McJannett, current student in the University of Sydney Business School MBA program and 2016 recipient of the David Anstice MBA Scholarship for Community Leadership

Kelly McJannettIn a world where corporate leaders are searching for ‘meaning’ in their work, the greatest opportunities for personal gratification and economic influence remain misunderstood and untapped.

Instead, it is the restless people, businesses and markets that refuse to accept the failures of our society who are emerging as the purpose-driven leaders to change it.

It is time to reframe our most pressing economic, social and environmental challenges and see them for what they really are; the largest market opportunities of our time.

Climate change. Poverty alleviation. Micro-economic development.

Is it too ambitious to deliver food security and economic sustainability to the most disadvantaged communities on earth? If the moral argument doesn’t win you over, the economic argument should.

Sustainable micro-economic development for emerging economies (particularly impoverished women):
• reduces the need for international spending on aid
• improves the social and physical health of most at risk communities
• reduces population sizes
• increases education standards per capita.

Purpose driven leadership requires a new way of thinking about age-old problems that challenges the status quo, and provides sound market driven responses for government and business alike.

While it is a small group, it’s a relief to be working alongside leaders who no longer see these challenges as the responsibility of NGO’s, Idealists or Corporate Social Responsibility divisions of big business. Rather these challenges are the opportunities for the thought leaders and innovation hubs of progressive organisations that will unlock the next great wave of global economic development.

Further incentive for purpose-driven leadership is that those with a high self-efficacy in purpose typically experience a greater degree of personal health, professional influence and (as a result) happiness.

So what is the purpose of leadership, and why bother?

The question was highlighted in one of many introspective activities in the foundational Leadership Practice and Development (LP&D) subject of the University of Sydney Business School’s MBA program. If you were to challenge yourself to project forward, many years, to the twilight zone of your professional career and reflect back, what would you have achieved and why would it matter?

Leadership is a responsibility. Not only to those we work with and our communities, it is also a responsibility to ourselves.

Looking back the purpose-driven leader reflects on a life which has had impact, brought about change and affected the world we live in for the better. It isn’t altruistic, it’s a pragmatic use of intelligence, opportunity and education.

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