I am drawn to leaders with a cause. We all are. A cause is what wakes us up in the morning. It can also be considered a problem or place in the world that is broken. A caused leader is one that is intrinsically motivated to solve that problem.
Caused leaders are in high demand these days. According to Glenn Llopis contributing writer at Forbes – leaders are beginning to lose control of their own identities and effectiveness as their employees begin to lose trust in their intentions because of hidden agendas and political maneuvering – casting clouds of doubt over their futures.
Leaders that are swayed by hidden agendas, ego and self-preservation are not leaders at all. A leader seeks to influence others toward a goal or a cause. Employees can tell if it is about you or about the vision. Employees seek certainty and a clear and compelling vision creates that impact. Employees then want the autonomy to influence that cause by deploying their strengths.
David Brooks in his book “The Road To Character” outlines the key to having a good life. It is a life that is centered around a vocation. A great vocation is centered not around yourself or an organization, but rather a cause. A place in the world that needs attention. The greatest corporations of the future will be ones that not only seek to obtain profits, but ones that intends to solve a societal issue.
“A vocation is not found by looking within and finding your passion. It is found by looking without and asking what life is asking of us. What problem is addressed by an activity you intrinsically enjoy.”
Are you a leader that seeks to serve yourself or an organization? Focusing on both or one of these may lead to frustration. If you seek to serve yourself, you will never be satisfied. I know for me when I look at revenue for the year, I realize that there is never enough money. If you seek to serve an organization, you may notice that people may never fully appreciate your efforts.
The third option worth exploring is to move toward self-actualization. A self-actualized leader is focused on their cause, with the intention to solve a problem of the world. A self-actualized leader is independent of the opinions of others. Additionally, they focus on the delight of doing the work that they must do because it is hard-wired into their nature.
Here are a few questions to help you evaluate your leadership:
1.) What is your cause?
2.) How often do you communicate your cause with your people?
3.) What problem is addressed by an activity you intrinsically enjoy?
4.) Do you allow the opinions of others inform your cause?
5.) What are your hidden agendas if any?