There is a man I think of as genuinely inspiring. He is a dean of a professional school who understands positive leadership. In a recent conversation, he told me he is always looking for “purpose boosters.” I was puzzled and asked for clarification.
He told me it was his job to continually clarify the highest purpose of the school and continually breathe life into the culture of the school. To do this he not only has to inspire, he has to be inspired. He has to understand and connect to the needs of the students, staff and faculty. So in planning his schedule, he gives priority to events that reveal values and inspire. For example, the week of graduation is packed with events that can exhaust a dean. He tries to attend as many meaningful events as he can.
At those events, he is often a speaker. Yet, in addition to speaking, he listens carefully and he asks questions. He inevitably hears a story or two about an individual or a group that reveals what they find most meaningful. These stories increase his understanding of deep needs and of highest purpose. They elevate his own sense of purpose and his ability to articulate purpose. He records these purpose boosters in his memory. In later preparing to speak or lead, he draws on his library of memories to communicate purpose and breathe life or social excellence into the organization.
- Who breathes life into your organization?
- Who understands the deepest needs and values of your people?
- How could you use the concept of purpose boosters in the future?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?