Part of an ongoing series of articles on leadership capability patterns; this article looks at some leadership patterns that relate to purpose.
In 1999, with two others, I founded web development consultancy, Base Innovate, and took the plunge to set things up, get things going, find customers, take on staff; with the plan that the others would join me as the company grew. As you can imagine, this role was primarily about leadership and management, with some time still spent consulting with customers and initially leading the projects.
As I worked to establish what we were doing, we initially suffered from a lack of purpose. While we were great at business analysis, project management, and development, when potential customers asked us what we did, our answer was “what would you like us to do”. We thought that was pretty clever, but as you can guess, it didn’t strike our customers that way.
We realised that we had to identify what we were in business to do, and what our services were.
The second habit from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly-Effective People, is particularly apposite in this context: “begin with the end in mind”.
We needed to be clear about what our customers wanted and what this meant we had to be able to deliver, then we could adjust our mission, so that our outcomes and purpose were aligned.
Being a decisive leader means being able to understand and work through why our teams exist, what is their purpose and what do our customers need (internal and/or external). I represent this with the purpose–service axis in the leadership capability patterns.
I think of this as the third capability level in the leadership capability patterns, focusing on the wider organisation and customers, understanding how we contribute at a strategic level.
Explore the related articles in this series: