Singapore Business Leaders Programme Recap: Leading Meaningfully to Find Purpose

19/05/2017
With the shift towards people seeking meaningful experiences in their lives, organisations and their employees are being asked existential questions about their identity and purpose as global citizens. Leaders will be at the core of making critical decisions in the face of these challenges that will shape the future of their organisations.

The questions we ask ourselves should neither be the “what” nor the “how” when it comes to future challenges ahead. Rather, leaders should start asking “who” and “why” about their organisation’s role in the community.

“The business of business is purpose”

Organisations have historically been fighting competitive pressures with the shareholder model central to their decisions and activities. This requires a focus on driving financial results quarter-on-quarter without much regard for long-term sustainability.

However, the game has changed. Today, companies face an opportunity to provide meaningful experiences for both customers and employees. But organisations can view this as an opportunity to establish their identity by asking the right questions: Who are we as an organisation and why do we exist? Is it about time that we shift from the shareholder model to a stakeholder model? Do we have a central purpose that is relatable to our organisation?

There needs to be a concrete investment from leaders to look further ahead instead of focusing solely on meeting numbers every quarter, should organisations wish to drive change in response to future challenges. Perhaps it is about time to move from Milton Friedman’s statement of “The business of business is business” to “The business of business is purpose” because financial success should not be the end but rather the sense of mission and purpose.

Enduring leadership qualities in an ever-changing world

The good news is, critical leadership qualities remain the same in meeting challenges of an ever-changing world. Some of these qualities include:

  1. Ability to drive insights in meeting your organisation needs
  2. Being intensely driven to meet goals and learning continuously from failures
  3. Ability to be the lighthouse and lead people along this difficult journey while using trust as the leadership glue
  4. Having an eye for talent who look beyond their self-interests and into the broader organisational goals
  5. Possessing the moral compass to demonstrate the right behaviours in difficult situations
  6. Looking beyond internal while leveraging externally within the ecosystem to do accomplish more together
  7. Having a clear vision and mindfulness in dealing with business

These are some enduring, or even timeless, leadership qualities, which can make or break the organisation in the toughest of challenges. Because if leaders do not make the right decisions, how is it possible for the rest of the organisation to do so?

But how can leaders be expected to always make the right decisions? A tip: Silence in meditation to reflect and reconcile with your inner thoughts, especially when one is pressed to react to external surroundings. This will offer clarity of thought to make the right decisions in the toughest of challenges.

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