I recently had the opportunity to attend a 3-day training program on “Finding Your True North,” sponsored by the Authentic Leadership Institute. Those of you who know me well are probably already staring at the screen in disbelief. You’re thinking, “JB, you’ve historically turned up your nose at “system” training on management and the interpersonal stuff. You went to a class on authenticity? Did Lori (wife) make you go? Is hell freezing over?”
It was truly an amazing and powerful experience. Probably life-changing.
The program was developed to help leaders dig deep and understand their true purpose – the “key” that unlocks the door to the “magical room” where we are happiest and do our best work.
(It’s also quite different from Navin’s (Steve Martin) special purpose in “The Jerk,” but I digress.)
If the idea of the magical room still sounds goofy to you, ask yourself:
- How well am I focusing on the work I like and do best?
- Do I even know what that work is?
- Do I have the courage to live my purpose and the life I truly want?
The program began by removing all pretension from participants. Each of us had to answer, publicly, “What does the rest of the world not see or know about you? Where does that come from?” This exercise was really cool, because as soon as the first person answered the question out loud, we all felt a combination of liberated, compelled to do likewise, and connected.
From there we went on to identify and discuss our extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, our abilities as leaders, when and where we are at our best, and our core values. This deliberate, highly reflective, and challenging process led us eventually to define our purpose and how we plan to move ourselves into that space where we are truly at our best, are most impactful as leaders, and happiest.
As a manager and as a contract COO, I have often spoken of the critical importance of aligning employee skills and interests with company needs. Think about it, when all colleagues are doing what they like and do best, what happens to:
- Work quality?
- Company culture?
- Continuous growth and improvement?
- Our loyalty to the company?
When we achieve this alignment for our employees, we get a collaborative, cohesive, and high-performing team. It’s the best way I know to generate steady growth for the company and more opportunity for employees. Management gets to spend their time driving progress instead of grappling with whiny employees.
When we achieve this alignment for ourselves, we get a much happier way to spend those 40-60 hours each week.
I did not know most of the people in the room when I began the three days. By the end, I had developed new friends with whom I’ll stay close probably for the rest of my life (may it be a long time).
One week after completing the course I took a deep breath and said something to a potential client that I would never have dared prior (very politely, of course). The response I got back was a very clear statement of appreciation and respect, and the identification of a possible new and very appealing role.
Knowing and living purpose works.
So what’s my leadership purpose? Before I tell you I’ll add this is not intended as a marketing tool, but as my own internal guide.
Be a force that inspires optimism, promotes connectivity, and delivers success.
P.S. The program is not yet widely available, but we’re working on it!