Leadership Author & Speaker

Finding a Meaningful Purpose Is The Key to Successful Leadership – Neil Writes for In-Cumbria Magazine

Neil’s article on the key to successful leadership recently appeared in the “In-Cumbria” magazine.

Read below or visit In Cumbria

Successful leadership is underpinned by a few important principles. Having a clear and compelling purpose is the most fundamental. Be clear what your organisation is trying to achieve and then talk about it a lot. Meaningful purpose energises and focuses activity. Failing to define your purpose means your entire operation is built on shaky foundations. It’s like not reading the question in an exam; just blundering through and hoping for the best. A team only becomes a team when it has a purpose. Passengers on a bus are not a team. They become a team if they’re stranded in a blizzard. Survival becomes the purpose that sees them work together.

Allied to this: make sure the purpose matters to you. Whether you’re building a business or choosing your next leadership role, find something that matches your own values and, where you can, make a positive difference. If you’re working on something you believe in, your enthusiasm will be infectious.

Teamwork is vital, so build great relationships. Leaders increase their impact by engaging others. Ronald Reagan said “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Computer screens dilute the real connection that’s needed to build effective relationships. So go and see people face to face; spending time with people builds trust. And push through shallow chat to more meaningful conversation. Visit your team where they work and spend time with them there. Their territory is where they feel most comfortable. This allows a more relaxed and honest connection.

Status can be a barrier to that connection. The more conscious people are of your status, the more likely they will be to give you a false version of reality. Make people feel safe, and let them know that you welcome the truth. In effective leadership, the focus is on the team you work with and the objective. Make it clear, with words and actions, that you are within rather than above the team. That will strengthen your connections and inspire trust.

Allowing more than controlling will also build trust. Good leaders work with good people, and trust them to do their jobs. Insecurity can lead you to try to control them. Instead, empower them. Train and encourage. Then give people an objective and allow them to take it from there. Meddling leaders stifle initiative. Control casts a shadow where nothing grows.

Taking time to think is important. This might include thinking about whatever purpose you’re trying to achieve, your team and your budget. Creating the time to think is not a luxury – it’s vital. If the leader doesn’t regularly set aside time to consider the purpose, whether it’s being achieved and – if it isn’t – how to achieve it, no one else in the team is likely to. In that case, the organisation may well drift aimlessly, or be steered off course.

Work is important – of course it is. We need it not just financially but for a sense of purpose and self-worth. A good leader should want to work hard, for the sake of their colleagues and for the clear and compelling purpose that drives the organisation. But remember that life isn’t all about work. Try to operate in a sustainable way, staying healthy and making time for hobbies, holidays, friends and loved ones. If you find it difficult to switch off, tell yourself that you’ll be a better leader if you’re happy and have your life in balance. You’ll be no use to anyone if you burn out.

* Neil Jurd OBE is the founder of; the leaderships and teams video and podcast hub. He is also the author of the best-selling The Leadership Book.