Providing Purpose

management leadership


A job pays the bills. But if that is all it means to you, it will be hard to feel inspired. It is not unreasonable to expect a job to excite you and provide you with a higher sense of purpose.

Purpose is feeling that your time is being well spent and your work is adding value to something that matters. For some people it is easier to feel purpose, and also some vocations are simply more likely to help you feel purpose e.g. teachers and healthcare professionals are frequently included in this category.

But most people are not wired to feel purpose that easily and most jobs are not clearly fulfilling in that sense. You, as a manager, have to effectively lead those people. What can you do?

You can indeed create a sense of purpose. In order to do that:

  • First, you will need to articulate the important goals they are serving beyond their daily work. This could be related to the community, or education, or environmental goals. It is too easy to get lost in the routine and miss the bigger picture your organisation serves. As a manager, your duty is to remind them.

  • Next, you must find ways to link your employees to the outcomes of their work, e.g. if they create applications for students, show them feedback from real users. Or even better, invite some to the office so that they can share their experiences first hand. Anything that can help them feel the value they are adding.

  • Finally, give your team voice and autonomy. That is input in the decision-making process and freedom to be creative and not micromanaged. This will have the side benefit of improving trust and creating opportunities for development. But will also make people feel they are in control of their own time, making a genuine and invaluable contribution.

For some jobs it might be easier, but for any job, with a little effort, you can help people get over their routine and feel purpose.