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Understanding Purpose-Driven Leadership

Kirjoittanut: Ismo Huusko - tiimistä Kaaos.

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Start with Why
Simon Sinek
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 8 minuuttia.

Understanding Purpose-Driven Leadership 

Vincent Bitana and Ismo Huusko



Purpose-driven leadership is a beacon in the arena of organizational management that stresses values, mission, and purpose above profits. An intense realization occurred to us as we plunged into the intricacies of purpose-driven leadership – it was more than just another style but an all-encompassing philosophy that pervades everything in an organization. This reflection entails our passage through understanding what purpose-driven leadership is through practical steps and knowledge we have gained. 


Understanding Purpose-Driven Leadership: 

Purpose-driven leadership goes beyond mainstream management models by directing organizations towards a higher calling. It is based on a keen sense of direction that transcends financial triumph. As soon as we realized this, we also understood how important it was to link personal and organizational objectives to establish a congruent relationship whereby individuals are employees and contributors to something greater. 

Therefore, Purpose-driven leadership is a management approach that aligns the organization’s and its employees’ mission and values. It goes beyond the usual focus on profitability and growth to integrate a deeper sense of purpose and social responsibility.  

For example, purpose-driven leaders articulate a clear and inspiring mission for the organization. This mission goes beyond financial success and addresses the positive impact the company seeks to make in the world. As leaders we should establish and communicate core values that guide decision-making and behavior at all levels of the organization. 

Purpose-driven leaders pursue a compelling vision for the future. This vision motivates and inspires employees, fostering a sense of shared purpose and direction. The importance of engaging employees on a deeper level because it encourages a sense of ownership and personal connection to the organization’s mission, fostering a more committed and motivated workforce. 


Another aspect is to prioritize social and environmental responsibility. As a purpose driven leader, we integrate sustainable practices into our business model and actively contribute to the well-being of communities. Authenticity is crucial in purpose-driven leadership. Leaders who genuinely believe in and embodies the organization’s purpose build trust and credibility with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. They also understand the need for adaptability in a rapidly changing world. We as purpose driven leaders should foster a culture of continuous learning, encouraging employees in order to embrace new challenges and innovations. 

Instead of focusing solely on short-term gains, purpose-driven leadership takes a long-term perspective. This approach involves making decisions that may not yield immediate benefits but contribute to the organization’s sustained success and positive impact over time. 


Balancing Profit and Purpose: 

Purpose-driven leaders understand that financial success is essential for the organization’s sustainability. However, they seek to balance profitability with a commitment to social and environmental goals. 


Communication and Transparency: 

Effective communication is key in purpose-driven leadership. Leaders must consistently communicate the organization’s purpose, values, and progress toward its goals. Transparency builds trust and fosters a sense of shared responsibility. 


Personal Growth and Well-being: 

Purpose-driven leaders recognize the importance of supporting the personal and professional growth of their team members. They prioritize employee well-being and development, creating a positive and fulfilling work environment. 

Hence, purpose-driven leadership involves aligning the organization’s mission and values with the personal values of its employees, fostering a sense of shared purpose, and prioritizing social and environmental responsibility. This approach not only contributes to the organization’s success but also to a positive impact on society. 


Foundation of Authentic Leadership: 

Authenticity represents one of the pillars upon which purpose-driven leadership stands. Leaders who embrace their call genuinely relate their values with the mission of the organization. Such frankness engenders trust, which is crucial for creating solid teams. Through this lens, we discovered that purpose-driven leaders do not only lead based on authority but by showing others the way through their willingness to sacrifice for something greater than them. 


Impact on Organizational Culture: 

Purpose-oriented leadership helps in nurturing positive organizational cultures. Looking through various case studies and real-life examples, it became evident that purposeful organizations create an environment where innovation, collaboration and employee well-being is enhanced. This becomes a common language that binds together beyond hierarchical boundaries. 


Navigating Challenges: 

However promising purpose-driven leadership may face several challenges. Effectively communicating the organization’s purpose requires strategic foresight and resilience to align divergent viewpoints and maintain commitment over time. In our study, we realized that purpose-driven leaders are good at adjusting to change and turning hurdles into growth opportunities. 


Personal Growth and Development: 

Once again examining what we have learned about purpose-driven leadership brought us back to personal development occurring in our own lives. Purpose-driven leadership principles extend past organizational scope, raising self-assessment on our values and hopes. This exploration has made us realize that there is far greater purpose, and we should align our own personal goals to contribute to a meaningful world around us. 

Our pursuit of purpose-driven leadership has made us understand it as a short-lived fashion but a radical thought that alters the complexion of leadership. It is a process that involves knowing oneself, genuineness, and devotion to something bigger than oneself. As we keep untangling the webs of purpose driven leadership, we are not only motivated by being an observer but an actor in the progress on management to a more meaningful and influential destiny. 


Emotional and purposeful leadership: 

In leadership, there is a fundamental distinction between merely occupying a position of authority and embodying purposeful leadership. Purposeful leadership transcends conventional notions of command and control, it is rooted in a deep understanding of oneself and others, and it fosters an environment where individuals are inspired to contribute meaningfully towards shared goals. At the heart of purposeful leadership lies emotional intelligence that is a set of skills that enables leaders to navigate complex human dynamics, foster trust, and inspire collective action. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 

Understanding emotional intelligence: 

Emotional intelligence includes the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s emotions, and the capacity to perceive and influence others’ emotions. It comprises a multifaceted skill set, including self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. While traditional leadership models have often prioritized technical proficiency and strategic acumen, contemporary perspectives increasingly recognize the role of emotional intelligence in driving organizational success. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 

Self-awareness as the foundation: 

Purposeful leadership begins with self-awareness, the ability to recognize emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values. Leaders who have a high degree of self-awareness are better equipped to understand how their emotions influence their behavior and decision-making processes. By focusing on reflection and mindfulness, self-awareness enables leaders to cultivate authenticity and integrity, thereby earning the trust and respect of their followers. As we went further on purposeful leadership, we noticed how self-awareness has a crucial role while being a leader. We can think of leadership actions as an iceberg. In this metaphor what lays below the surface is all the work leader has done by him- or herself. This includes mindfulness, reflection and focusing on self-awareness as mentioned above so most work happens in the dark. After a leader has done that challenging work of self-improvement, they can make sound decisions which affect others. Without the solid bottom of the iceberg, the tip would not be trustworthy since it can flip over at any given moment, and we do not want that to happen. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 


Self-regulation and resilience: 

Being a leader is not easy by any means, since you will face hardships, conflicts, strong emotions of employees, and you always need to carry the responsibility of your team. Through self-awareness we can start to get stronger in the face of adversity, since we can control our reactions. As a in the face of adversity and uncertainty, leaders must demonstrate resilience and emotional stability which comes through knowing oneself. Self-regulation is the ability to control impulses, manage stress, and adapt to changing circumstances. Being able to self-regulate is a significant role for maintaining composure and making sound decisions amidst challenges. As purposeful leaders we leverage our self-regulatory skills to create a culture of resilience within our organizations, inspiring confidence, and perseverance in our teams even in the face of hardships. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 

Empathy and relationship building: 

It is quite common to think that a leader is someone who does not show any emotions and is machine like a work maniac. Especially in older companies they still have militaristic outlook toward organizational culture, and it simply does not work anymore, and organizations need to adapt and bring human side more out within their employees and leaders. This is because empathy lies at the heart of effective leadership, enabling leaders to understand and resonate with the experiences, perspectives, and emotions of others. By demonstrating empathy, leaders create trust, collaboration, and inclusive organizational cultures. Through active listening and genuine concern for the well-being of their teams, purposeful leaders forge meaningful connections and inspire loyalty and commitment in their employees. As you start your journey of increasing your empathy, it all connects to self-awareness and being okay with yourself and your emotions. This is how you create space for empathy and capacity to feel for other people without overdriving yourself with worries. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 

Social skills: 

Socializing with other people is crucial as a leader because you are not working alone. Even if you work alone great social skills help you drastically to succeed in any desired field of yours but especially in leadership position. Purposeful leadership extends beyond individual capabilities to encompass the ability to mobilize and inspire collective action. Leaders with strong social skills excel in communication, conflict resolution, and team building, empowering their teams to achieve shared goals. By articulating a compelling vision and creating a sense of belonging among the workplace, and providing constructive feedback, purposeful leaders lead the way for their teams towards innovation and success. It is also easy to fall in trap where you think that the social skills cannot be developed, and it is something you are born with but those are all skills that can be developed through repetitions and putting yourself in situations where you need those skills and that is how you grow towards purposeful leadership. Also, what inspires others is how you lead by example and when you are clearly putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, it signals to your employees to do the same. This is how collective action is being created. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 

Building trust and authenticity: 

Transparency in expressing emotions through self- and situational awareness is a hallmark of authentic leadership. When we as leaders share our feelings, whether it be excitement, concern, or vulnerability, we demonstrate sincerity and authenticity. This authenticity is a cornerstone for trust among team members and employees, as they perceive their leader as genuine and relatable. Through open expression of emotions, we lay the foundation for trusting relationships, essential for effective collaboration and engagement. Everything starts with small steps and that includes showing your feelings as well. When we as leaders celebrate small successes and express our feelings through empathy towards others during challenging times, it connects people.  

Emotional expression connects people by breaking down barriers between leaders and their teams. When leaders share their emotional experiences, they become more relatable to their team members. By acknowledging shared challenges and emotions, leaders create a sense of understanding within the team. This sense of connection strengthens bonds and encourages greater cooperation and support among team members. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 


Mastering emotional intelligence together as a team: 

Expressing emotions as a leader is not just about conveying personal feelings, it also serves as a model for emotional intelligence. Leaders who openly acknowledge and manage their emotions demonstrate the importance of emotional self-awareness and regulation. This modelling encourages team members to develop their own emotional intelligence, leading to a more resilient and adaptable team capable of navigating challenges effectively. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 


Open communication and inspiring others: 

Leaders who share their feelings create an environment conducive to open communication. When leaders demonstrate vulnerability by expressing concerns or uncertainties, they encourage team members to voice their own thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. This openness creates the way for dialogue, problem-solving, and innovation within the team which all helps organization to succeed in wanted way. 

Expressing positive emotions such as enthusiasm or pride can be a powerful motivator for team members. When leaders openly celebrate successes or express passion for a project, they inspire similar feelings in their team members. This shared enthusiasm stands for greater engagement and commitment to achieving shared goals, driving performance and productivity within the team. (Cherniss and Roche 2020) 




Understanding purpose-driven leadership within a team concept is paramount for fostering cohesive and high-performing groups. Purpose-driven leadership aligns individual and collective efforts toward a shared vision, imbuing work with meaning and motivation. In conclusion, recognizing the significance of purpose-driven leadership in teams enhances collaboration, engagement, and organizational success. Leaders who effectively communicate purpose, inspire commitment, and empower team members to connect their work to a greater mission, create environments where individuals thrive, and achieve remarkable results. 




Cherniss, C and Roche, C. 2020. Leading with feeling. Nine strategies of emotionally intelligent leadership. New York. Oxford University Press.  

Sinek. S. 2019. “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” Libros Mentores. ISBN:

6610000224708 Chris Edmonds. Purposeful Culture Group. (2021, January 2). https://www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com/

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